To say that Michelle Buteau keeps it real would be an understatement. The comedian, actress and now author of Survival of the Thickest: Plus-Sized Essays in a Small-Minded World, published in December by “Simon and Schu-Schu,” as she affectionately calls it, is proudly unfiltered—and hilariously so on this week’s episode of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!
“I’m a truth teller, right?” she asks, adding. “That’s how that’s how I make my money. That’s who I am.”
In Survival of the Thickest, Buteau is nothing if not herself: irreverent, occasionally ridiculous, and revealing to the point of overshare as she chronicles her slapstick journey from journalist to comedian to her hard-fought role of mother (to twins). Equal parts comedic, candid and cringeworthy, the resulting book is a testament to Buteau’s empathy, relatability and undeniable talent.
“I always had this book idea in the back of my head swimming,” she tells us. “For like six years I tried to write this book and I couldn’t get past the proposal. And it was originally supposed to be called ‘Maintaining Chunky: A Thick Girl’s Guide to Not Getting Fat...Or Skinny.’ But then I was like I just sounded like a lazy Jillian Michaels where I’m just like, ‘Do the squats, on a dick, if you want. That’s cardio.’”
I mean...she’s not wrong. But while Buteau is never short on humor, she’s also a Black woman navigating Hollywood, well aware that she doesn’t fit into its classic archetype—and pushing through, anyway.
“I just can’t let other people’s basic opinions define my happiness,” she tells us. “And if I always waited on Hollywood or the man or whoever the fuck to do what I wanted to do, that I wouldn’t get anything fucking done.”
Whew, a word—and it’s candor like this that has us casting Buteau as our best friend in our heads—but she’s nobody’s sidekick.
“I mean, all types of women, particularly Black women, we always have to explain ourselves. We always have to apologize for our power and our opinions and shit,” she says, later adding, “And I’m just so tired of trying to fit into the middle seat for everybody. I’m the whole damn aisle, fucking get used to it. If you don’t understand my shine, go the fuck over there.”
Join The Root and the irrepressible Michelle Buteau on Episode 18 of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!: Into the Thick of It with Michelle Buteau, now available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, Amazon, NPR One, TuneIn, and Radio Public. Also available is a transcript of this week’s episode.