Study Guide

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Appearances

By Carolyn Mackler

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It made sense at the time. But now it dawns on me that it's easy for Anaïs to give that kind of advice when she's waify and gorgeous and people have stopped her on the street to tell her she should be a model. (2.30)

Sure, but Anaïs runs away from a city where models matter and joins the Peace Corps. Maybe being beautiful didn't make her life as awesome and fulfilling as Virginia thinks.

It's Brie Newhart, Brinna Livingston and Briar Schwartz. The Queen Bee Popular Girls of the tenth grade. Major requirements: be bony, be b****y, and begin your name with "Bri." (4.36)

Virginia might think being skinny would make her have more friends, but if the only things you have in common are your weight and the first three letters of your name, maybe you're not really friends.

After a moment Brie says, "All I can say is, if I were that fat, I'd kill myself." (4.62)

Ironically, Brie almost kills herself trying to be skinny, and when this happens, the other popular girls ditch her since she's no longer looking so hot.

Mom has a hard time talking about my body. Her shrink side wants to reassure me that I'm fine the way I am, accept myself, all that self-esteem stuff. But her Mom side wants me to be thin and perfect, like the rest of the Shreves. (5.61)

Sometimes shrinks are the most messed-up people of all. Virginia's mom listens to other teenagers' problems all day, then comes home and ignores her own teenager.

The truth is, if you want to be an MBS, you have to dress a certain way (preppy/urban/chic) and look a certain way (white/skinny/flawless skin). Except, of course, when Brewster is taking pictures for their promotional booklets. Then the MBS is black/Asian/Latino/Indian/biracial, but still skinny and without a zit in sight. (6.38)

The Model Brewster Student is white, but the Brewster Student Models are brown.

Besides, it's a Shreves family policy to not talk about our dirty laundry—in public and usually not even in private. It's sort of like if you don't discuss it, it didn't happen. (16.46)

This is why Anaïs calls her mom Cleopatra, Queen of Denial. (See what she did there?)

Brie Newhart is dressed as a queen, complete with a tiara and a velvet cloak lined with faux fur. Brinna and Briar are wearing skintight cat suits and headbands with pointy ears. They must see Halloween as a prime opportunity to flaunt their own personal skeletons. (18.28)

Every school event is a chance for the Bri-girls to ascend one more rung on the ladder of popularity. They may wear literal costumes on Halloween, but they wear metaphorical ones every day.

I can't help but think about the traditional Thanksgiving that took place on Riverside Drive tonight—turkey and stuffing and Mom rambling on about how she's thankful for woooonderful family and wooonderful friends and a wooonderful life. (21.63)

Sure, if by "wonderful" you mean, "my son raped a girl and my daughter cuts herself."

I guess I'm feeling a little different about things, like how outside appearances can be deceiving and sometimes people aren't all they're cracked up to be. Speaking of appearances, Brie looks pale and worn out, like a T-shirt that's been in the dryer too many times. (23.37)

For Brie, the fall from the popularity ladder is a way worse tumble than a hundred trips through the dryer.

"Strawberry?" Mom scrunches her nose. "It's so cheap-looking. We're going to a holiday party, not the Jersey Shore." (23.65)

Virginia wants to shop at Strawberry; her mom wants her to shop at Salon Z. It's not important to her for Virginia to look age-appropriate, it's only important for her to look rich.

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