Study Guide

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

By Carolyn Mackler

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If you ever needed a perfect literary example of the phrase looks can be deceiving, it's Brie Newhart in The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. She's super-skinny, her skin is perfect, she wears fancy purple boots from Paris, and she's got a lock on the Model Brewster Student award until graduation. In other words, she's the ultimate popular girl.

But when Virginia walks into the school bathroom and sees those purple boots beneath a stall door, they're accompanied by the sound of puking. You don't develop an eating disorder if your life is actually perfect—kind of like how you don't commit date rape if you're actually a nice guy.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Do the Bri-girls shun Brie because they can't deal with her psychological issues, or because they can't deal with her not being beautiful anymore?
  2. How does Virginia's appearance differ from who she really is?
  3. If Strawberry had the same clothes but they cost more money, would Virginia's mom approve of her shopping there?

Chew on This

This book is, first and foremost, a commentary on the unrealistic and dehumanizing pressures we place on young women to be thin.

No one who fits the skinny, preppy, rich, white person mold in this book is actually happy.

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