Study Guide

A Little Less Girl Appearances

By Tess Oliver

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Chapter 4

Speaking of stupidity, I walked into the yardage store to help Grammie, and Mrs. Busby, the owner, smiled at me in that sympathetic way and said to Grammie; she has such a pretty face. If ever there was a backhanded compliment in the world of backhanded compliments that was it. If there was a dictionary of underhanded compliments it would be right there on the front page beneath "what a pretty dress, did you sew it yourself" and "what did you do to your hair, it looks so different." This was one I used myself the other day on Katy Hoffman. I really wasn't trying to be mean, but the front was longer than the back and the entire haircut was rather disturbing. She must have gone to a salon without mirrors. Anyhow, I wanted to let Mrs. Busby know that the face came with the rest of me and that the rest of me was feeling quite insulted, but Grammie shot me an admonishing look so I smiled and nodded. (4.31)

Amy knows how people see her and she's not happy about it. Inside she's an awesome person, but outside all people see is that's she's overweight. Of course, she admits to doing the same thing to other people, too, so maybe we're all guilty of these little backhanded compliments when it comes to the way people look?

Jake sightings, three. Once coming out of the gym. Wet hair and glorious smile. Once in the cafeteria, but only from behind. Great view of his butt! Enough said. Once as he drove past in his jeep. The human troll with the size D cups clung to him from the passenger seat. Daydreamed for a minute that he took the turn too fast and Katrina flew out head first into a garbage can. A girl can dream, can't she? (4.29)

This entry from Amy's diary details just one of the many reasons she likes Jake—his good looks. It also hits a few jealous notes. Amy is clearly annoyed with Katrina, who is not the nicest girl at school but has the goods and snags Jake's attention. Ugh.

Chapter 6

"I'm sure the principal will want to meet you. He'll decide whether or not you can stay in that attire today." She motioned through the small swinging door and led me to an office. She knocked and poked her head inside. "New student."

I stepped inside. The principal looked like every other principal with a charcoal gray suit, a collar that was one size to small, and a waist that was one size too big. This one wasn't as practiced at receiving nonconforming students as most. His mouth hung open slightly for a second, then he gathered himself and sat forward. He was about to speak but I spoke first.

"I've been to four high schools in three years, I'm a straight A student, I had a near perfect score on the SAT in my sophomore year, and I've broken ten swimming records.

And the girl whose name is on the plaque in front of that pathetic tree seedling in front of the school was my cousin."

The principal's mouth dropped open again. His gaze dropped to my bare legs and black boots for a second. Then he picked up a pen and pulled a piece of paper from a green pad. He scribbled a few lines and handed me the note. "Dress more appropriately tomorrow. This note is to let teachers know you're staying today. First period is starting right now." (6.17-21)

The ladies in the office and the principal only see Dani's revealing outfit, but Dani makes it clear that she's made up of more than what she's wearing. Hey, her brain is up here, guys.

Chapter 7

It didn't matter where I sat. I couldn't hear anything Ms. Miller was saying over the pounding in my chest. And I couldn't see anything past the doll-like profile of the new girl. Amy's cousin. She looked absurdly girlish beneath the harsh layers of make-up, denim and leather. Aside from a tiny scar on her upper lip and a short jagged scar on her chin, she was flawless. (7.17)

So Dani is pretty gorgeous and as soon as she walks into class all the teenage boys are drooling over her. But Jake's probably the only one to notice Dani's one tiny imperfection—the scar on her face. Hmm… this new girl has some secrets.

Chapter 8

Now for the juicy stuff. This was the part of the day where I truly wish I knew how to channel people. Dani, I would have channeled your smooth, cool confidence. And maybe those friggin' legs of yours. Really, cuz, how could we have the same genes? You've got long, sleek thighs while mine look like lumpy potatoes.

I stared at the way she'd written my name. She always made the D extra fancy. I shut my eyes for a minute to see her face. She'd envied my legs, and I'd always envied her incredible hazel eyes and button nose. (8.31-32)

Amy thinks Dani managed to get all the super hot genes in the family, but Dani doesn't see things this way. She loved Amy's face and her beautiful eyes. Sometimes it hard to appreciate what's cute about ourselves, isn't it?

Chapter 13

Katrina stood up and peeled off her sweatshirt like she was an artist lifting the curtain on her masterpiece. Alex and the other clay heads sitting with him howled like wolves from their perches. Apparently the freshman boys had never witnessed this unveiling. They froze at the sight of it. (13.16)

We'll give Katrina credit: She has the goods and she knows how to use them. Katrina is the hottest girl in school, hands down, and it's pretty clear that she generally uses her beauty to get what she wants.

Chapter 15

My hair nearly touched my shoulders when I combed it wet. I was surprised the coach hadn't said anything about it. Apparently he didn't want to ruffle my feathers. I hadn't been growing it long to annoy my parents. It was a tribute of sorts. But the person I'd grown it long for was no longer here to see it. I think she would have appreciated it. (15.9)

No one seems to like Jake's long hair, but he knows that Amy did since before she died she painted Jake with long hair riding his horse. Now he's changing up his look in honor of her. Aw.

Chapter 16

Big question of the day. Why is it so easy to make gargantuan goals and plans for life improvement at night when you're in bed? Last night I told myself that in the morning I would begin a strict diet like the supermodels use, like the mango and chicken feet diet, where all you can eat for the day is one slice of mango and the dried foot of a chicken. (That's for the protein.) I drifted off thinking that was that, I would begin my diet and be gorgeous and slim by summer. Then morning comes and I walk to the pantry and pull out the brown sugar Pop Tarts. I toast two and eat the other two raw while I'm waiting for the first two to heat. Although, is a Pop Tart considered raw if it hasn't been toasted? Hmm, something to ponder? Anyhow, I down breakfast pastries knowing full well they do not fit into my earlier planned strict mango and chicken foot diet. It's like all my resolve and determination stayed right there on my pillow waiting for my head to return. (16.36)

Amy's got a point here. It is pretty easy to commit to things and then drop the ball later. On the flipside, though, part of following through is setting realistic goals—and starvation isn't a super realistic goal. Plus, who wants to eat a dried chicken foot?

Chapter 18

I grabbed a chunk of pages and flipped closer to the back. The entries got shorter. One entry had a self-portrait where she was unzipping a fat suit and a skinny, bikini-clad Amy stepped out of it. She had a huge grin on her face.

Now that there's less girl, there doesn't seem to be enough of me to go around. Alex invited me to the bus, which was sort of like waking up in another world. Never did I think I would get an invite like that. (18.13-14)

And sure enough, Amy does burn off some of the pounds. With her new look comes new attention from the guys. She's clearly excited, but maybe not prepared for her whole new life as a skinny girl.

Chapter 22

Why did no one warn me that being thin sucked? If this is what real life is then give me back my blubber suit and shove a romance novel in my chubby fingers. I'm going back to friends I can count on like cupcakes, mashed potatoes and chocolate shakes. (22.4)

Poor, Amy—she changes her appearance but finds out that seeing lower numbers on the scale doesn't make her life all sunshine and rose petals. What really breaks our heart, though, is that she thinks of food as her only friend. It seems like she's really lonely.

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