Series: Stand Alone
Genre: New Adult
Author: Alessandra Thomas
Publication Date: March 26th 2013
Format: ARC copy provided for tour
Rating: 5 Stars
Fashion design major Cat Mitchell has a closet full of gorgeous clothes - and not a single thing fits. After two years of runway modeling for easy cash, an accident shattered her lower leg bone and her self-esteem in just one swift fall. Ten months of no exercise, prescription steroids, comfort eating and yoga pants meant returning to campus as a size twelve instead of her former size two.
When her gorgeous long-time friend with benefits sees her for the first time after her accident and snubs her in front of all her friends, Cat’s self-image hits rock bottom. Her sorority sisters all insist that she looks gorgeous, but all Cat sees is the roll of her stomach when she sits down, or the dimpling at the back of her thighs that wasn't there last year. Cat’s therapist prescribes something radical to stop the downward spiral - nude modeling for a nearby college's human form drawing classes.
When Cat faces her fears and bares it all for the class, she realizes that she's posing naked in front the most gorgeous, buffest guy she's ever seen in her life. He asks her out after the class, and after one steamy night together, Cat's absolutely smitten.
Nate’s pretty close to perfect – he takes Cat rock climbing when he discovers that it makes her feel strong and becomes a great chef after he learns that the perfect pesto sauce makes her swoon. Cat starts to feel like her old self again - confident and beautiful - as long as Nate's around. Even when he discourages her from entering the Real Woman Project, a design competition for plus-sized apparel, she reasons that he's just trying to prevent old body image wounds from splitting wide open again.
But when Cat goes home with Nate for Thanksgiving, she discovers something shocking from his recent past that proves that he hasn’t always been so encouraging of women of all shapes and sizes. Cat has no idea what to think, but she does know one thing - this might destroy their relationship before it's even had a chance to get off the ground.
Before Cat can figure out whether the real Nate is the sensitive, adoring guy she fell in love with, or an undercover asshole, she'll have to finally feel comfortable in her own skin - even if it means leaving him forever.
"Picture Perfect is a beautiful story about finding out who you are and loving yourself for it" -Hootie
The blurb is pretty self explanatory in laying out the gist of the story but what you get to see in the book is how Cat grows into a more confident woman. She used to be skinny and once she gains weight after her horse riding accident she no longer feels attractive or worthy. When she takes her counselor's advice and poses nude in an art class she gets some of that powerful feeling she used to have as a skinny model back. That class is where she meets Nate, an architectural design student who is very smitten with her just as she is. Nate was the most amazing guy character. He was so loving and attentive to Cat and he helped give her back some of her confidence. He encouraged her to be strong and not focus on her appearance so much.
Let's discuss the hotness that is Nate shall we? I'm about to break it down a la TLC style...*Clears Throat*
"Let's Talk about NATE baby, let's talk about his Wee-nie. Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things, he can. DO. TO. ME. Let's talk about NATE!"
Sometimes a girl has to bust out into song when a hot guy comes along! Nate is such a fantastically written male character that when you find out how he used to be, it doesn't even factor into your opinion about him WHAT-SO-EVER! Yeah he said and did some Douche -Baggy things but by the time you find this out you will have fallen so deeply in love with him that you won't even notice. Watching him basically worship Cat's body, mind and soul is erotic in and of itself, outside the hot sex they have and they have some hot ass sex! We find out these two share a past connection and that just makes their relationship that much sweeter. Nate makes her feel beautiful and made me swoon when he started describing her body as he explored. Whew! Talk about hot! There were lots of steamy moments to make you sweat because Nate is just too damn hot!! He's not just a sex machine though, he's very attentive and sweet. He paid attention to Cat and her feelings. He helps her focus on herself and what is important is how she sees herself, not how others see her. I would love to hug the author for writing such a wonderful, sexy and devoted guy that can make you swoon and have hot flashes all in one moment. *High Five*
Besides her relationship with Nate though the author showed that all her friends still accepted her as she was and loved her despite the weight gain. I really loved seeing that Cat had a team of support and nobody judged her or made her feel less than worthy. Anything she felt about herself was exactly that, her thoughts and feelings. Cat is my absolute HERO! Once she started to heal after her ordeal something happens in the club one night involving her ex Jake that just made me love her more than I did when the book started!
The most beautiful and important part of the book is the overall message of body image. How we see ourselves, and I feel like the author did a fantastic job showing Cat's struggles accurately in how she adjusted to her new size. Speaking as a woman who has had a poor body image her whole life this book really spoke to me because I know what it feels like to see myself as fat and disgusting. Watching Cat struggle felt familiar to me and made my bond with her character that much more solid. I know most women feel this way from time to time and this book is perfect for women like us. Not only does it shine a light on body image issues but the growth of the main character throughout the story helps show that it is more important to love WHO you are instead of WHAT SIZE you are. There were moments watching Cat compare her past life to the one she is living at the moment and she slowly realizes she was not as happy as she might have thought and THAT was the reward with this book. This story left me with such a sweet, warm feeling and I definitely recommend it for any woman struggling with self image or hell even a woman who just likes to read about a hot guy banging an equally hot and curvy woman! There wasn't one thing I didn't love about this book. It definitely deserves Five stars and maybe even a few more just because!
"First, he never just wanted to see you. He wanted a place to put his dick. Second, he doesn't not want to be with you because you're fat, he doesn't want to be with you because he's a dick. Because you're not fat. And third, from what I heard, the sex was never that good anyway." Loc. 311
"This is what a woman looks like. This is what made the masters so hungry to paint. They all knew better than the dumb ass fashion magazines, Cat. Trust me. It's amazing how so many curves can all come together into something so absolutely visually perfect." Loc. 1325
"I got my act together, and realized that with or without him, or any guy, or any modeling gig in my life, I was just fine. I was still me, still lovable and worthy and attractive. No matter what I looked like." Loc. 2896
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Guest Post by Alessandra Thomas
Our Culture’s Obsession with Weight:
Ohhhh Globug and Hootie. What to say about our culture’s obsession with weight?
Well, first of all, I’m obsessed with weight. So there’s that. I mean, seriously, I can’t ever remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be thinner. Literally. I started dieting at age eleven.
If eleven-year-old kids have some concept of what “too fat” is, they must be getting it from somewhere, right? So I think you’re right – our culture IS focused on weight, or rather, a certain standard of beauty that is very rigid and only includes people of a certain height and build.
Here’s what I mean. Fashion models are typically between 5’ 9” and 6’ tall. The models representing ‘typical’-sized girls are a size 0-4, and the models representing ‘plus’ sized girls are usually size 6-12. The average American woman is 5’4”, 162 lbs, and a size 14.
What I’m saying is that the women who live in fashion magazines and catalogs, displaying the clothes we’re supposed to wear and how we’re supposed to look at them, have bodies completely unlike almost all of their target audience. Even when we’re shopping for clothing, our number one tool for looking our best in the bodies we currently occupy, we’re going to be plumper and bumpier and shorter and stumpier than the women displaying the clothing.
I’m sorry, but what kind of f**cked up sh*t is that?
On top of that, you almost never see a round, short girl starring in a TV show, or singing on a stage. The beautiful people get the celebrity, get the attention, are the most adored. To make the celebrity perfection image worse, it’s common practice to Photoshop celebrities and models into oblivion. Check out these before-and-after Photoshop gifs of celebrities and just tell me your jaw didn’t drop. http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/17-mesmerizing-before-after-photoshop-gifs
See? Of course we’re obsessed with weight! We’ve been taught to strive toward this mostly-unattainable goal our whole lives. It’s everywhere. And, honestly, it’s not much better for men than for women.
To top it all off, our culture makes it really, really easy to eat badly. ESPECIALLY for college students and younger people with a shortage of time and cash. Which brings me to -
Why is Junk Food So Much Cheaper than Healthy Food?
Okay, listen. Here’s the thing. Are carrot sticks actually more expensive than potato chips? I have no freaking clue. I actually did some Googling on the matter, *adjusts glasses* and found out there was some New York Times editorial kerfuffle where some classist guy was saying that healthy food was cheaper, and then there were a bunch of reactions, and…look. I don’t know, you guys. Okay?
But I do know one thing about junk food – it’s way, way easier to obtain, fully ready to eat, than healthy food. It’s also stored more easily. One of my friends tried getting me to do a cleanse – basically I could only eat like fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Not only was it a nightmare because OH MY GOD GIVE ME SOME CHOCOLATE but on top of that I was going to the grocery store every other freaking day. And spending my money on spinach and tofu. Neither of which is chocolate.
I digress. The point is, that not only do you have to go shopping for healthy food three times as often as for junk food, but then you have to cook the stuff. And so even if it’s not actually more expensive than the junk food, it seems more expensive, because in all the time you spent shopping and preparing and cleaning up the kitchen afterwards you could have done some more homework, or taken a nap, or read a fabulous book like Picture Perfect (wink wink.) And our culture is so obsessed with being busy, busy, busy all the freaking time, that anything that SAVES us time is automatically more valuable.
Also, apparently, eating junk food is addictive.
In summary, I don’t know exactly why it’s more difficult to eat healthy food than junk food, but I do know that it is. Probably you should find yourself a boyfriend who likes to cook, like Nate, or at the very least get a cable subscription and watch Curtis Stone cook for another lucky girl on TLC.
See? You feel hotter already, don’t you?
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