GT Editor hopes to tweak the conversations we have about ‘dieting,’ eating disorders and the hunger to be ‘thin’ in the new read, ‘Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!’
I met him more than 10 years ago. The door in the Good Times office slammed shut and in walked Greg Archer, wearing a black vest, and exuding the type of charm that he’s well known for. For about six months, we sat next to each other, me in a boring cubicle and his section decked out with Christmas tree lights, streamers coming down from the ceiling and so on. We became fast friends. And then he became my boss when the previous editor moved on. Over the years, I’ve been able to watch Greg Archer evolve. He is known for his catchy style with language, his seamless leadership qualities, his genuine concern for his employees and his desire to create a newspaper that the community can rely on. And now, on top of all his accomplishments—a freelancer for magazines such as O Magazine, The Advocate, and others, the numerous awards he’s garnered, and much more—the man has taken on a new endeavor, co-author of the book, “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches! (The Common Sense Guide To Following Your Hunger and Your Heart).”
It’s an “anti-diet” and health book like you’ve never seen before. Collaborating with eating disorder specialist Dr. Maria Rago, Archer has set about to debunk the diet myths that are prevalent in America, and to tell people that it’s OK to “go ahead and eat that cupcake once in a while.” And while you’re at it, have a cup of self-esteem, too. I had the opportunity to read the book and I can say with confidence that it’s witty, smart, well written and necessary. I hope you’ll agree.
GOOD TIMES: YOU’VE BEEN THE EDITOR AT GT FOR 10 YEARS. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?
GREG ARCHER: It’s in my nature to write, and I’m a sucker for good causes, and I liked what Dr. Rago was doing with her patients in her eating disorders program. So we collaborated on this book that debunks dieting myths and hopefully gives people an alternative way of looking at themselves, their body size and the food they think they need to eat in order to be thin/happy.
OPRAH OR DR. PHIL?
[Laughs … because this the type of question that Archer often asks those he interviews.] Oprah. I’m from Chicago, so I saw her rise from ABC morning TV. She’s real and deep.
CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA?
Chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT LIFE LATELY?
That it flows more smoothly if you have a sense of humor.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN ABOUT LIFE?
My Polish aunt used to say, “Sweetheart, kill ’em with kindness.” That’s good advice. And the other is, “Don’t stop believing.”
FAVORITE CHEESY ’80S SONG?
“Don’t Stop Believing” … with a “Xanadu” chaser.
WHAT’S SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE IN SANTA CRUZ DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
That I’m probably very shy.
OK, BACK TO THE SERIOUS QUESTIONS. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT THE PROCESS OF WRITING THIS BOOK?
I wrote an article about Maria—it was about a program she had with her eating disorder patients—and it was published in O Magazine. Then she had mentioned that some of her patients were carrying around the book “Skinny Bitch.” She noticed changes in their behavior after reading that book. I know the intention of the book was to be playful, but the message is that you will not be cool or happy unless you’re “skinny.” So, we wanted to say, “shut up, skinny bitches,” but more so to the “skinny bitches mindset” out there prevelant in the media and advertising, and even health industries, that insist happiness can only come to you if you look a certain way—skinny. So, we embarked on a book in the beginning of 2009. The writing of it took six to seven months—because of the small publisher we had—but everything before and after, finding an agent and publisher in today’s publishing industry … it’s a miracle anyone gets a book published if you’re not Snooki or Kim Kardashian.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO WRITERS WHO HOPE TO GET PUBLISHED?
I’m not so sure you need an agent nowadays. With smaller publishers, you can avoid having your 15 percent given to an agent. If you are writing fiction, believe in your story. If you have a great story to tell, tell it and don’t be afraid to tell it. At the end of the day, people want to read good stories. Believe in your story and yourself, and don’t take no for an answer. If it’s non-fiction, be shrewd and practical and wise.
WHERE WILL THE BOOK BE SOLD, AND DO YOU HAVE ANY UPCOMING BOOK SIGNINGS?
Jan. 20 at Bookshop Santa Cruz. We will have some forbidden foods to eat. I’ll explain how the book came into being and elaborate on its themes and read from it. Also March 3 at the Capitola Book Café.
WHAT IS THIS BOOK ULTIMATELY ABOUT?
It’s about moving away from black-and-white thinking and finding a middle ground; an alternative way of looking at yourself and your relationship to your body and food. We address why diets don’t work and why eating regularly and in moderation does. We also go into body-image and eating disorders, and men—males also have body-image issues. Men—it’s a population that nobody discusses. This book is different. It says, “nothing is ‘wrong’ with you and there never was.”
HOW DO YOU EAT?
I used to be a raw foodist, but I felt that I was robbing my body of nutrients that I needed, and I was tired all the time. So, I have included a little more meat in my diet. I do a lot of Bikram yoga, and I eat a lot of veggies and fruit. I like a lot of water going through my body.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF LATELY?
That there is nothing wrong with me or the size of my body. And I keep learning that every day. There’s nothing wrong with me. Yet … knowing that and feeling that don’t always share the same bed together.
A book signing for “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!” takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20 at Bookshop Santa Cruz in Downtown Santa Cruz. There is also an event at Capitola Book Café on March 3. Learn more about the book ($15.95) at shutupskinnybitches.info or gregarcher.com. Now, go eat something good.