Samantha Irby Says It's OK to Hate Your Body

The best-selling author and writer for 'And Just Like That' says that the tyranny around loving yourself is bonkers to her.

Samantha Irby Says It's OK to Hate Your Body


David Marchese Photo by Mamadi Doubouya

When it comes to describing writers, "humorist" has a quaint, old-fashioned ring, like the literary equivalents of lamplighter or haberdasher. Samantha Irby, in four books, has brought to the funny literary essay a scabrously real, but never tame, and operatically scatological, vivacity. Irby is 43 and a supervising director on the upcoming season of the controversial 'Sex and the City revival', 'And Just Like That', which premieres in this month. I have a low self-esteem, and I put my mental illness all on the page. This is, of course the key to muddle through. Irby says, "I can look back at my life and find jokes."

You're always complaining about your messiness and lack of understanding how to live a happy life. Do you think that other people walk around thinking I have everything under control. When I see people who are well-organized, I feel worse. My wife has a very organized home. She has a routine and knows where everything is. When I see other people doing this, I wonder, "How can I live the same life as they do?" My goal when I write is to make people think, "Oh, she's going through the same [expletive] as I am." It's easy, when you're alone with your phone to think that you're the only person who has [expletive] up everything. Everyone is like, "Look at my children!" Look at my friends!" You eat whole grains, you drink enough water and I am over here with brown poop and can't even move.

Some people are accepting of their bodies. Is this a way of being or thinking that you can access? No, not for me. I admire those who wear crop tops and shorts. I would never wear shorts or crop tops. I may have been born too young to be able to say, "I don't care if you look at my legs." I've never had this relationship with my own body. I believe it is exacerbated by Crohn’s disease and the arthritis caused by Crohn’s. I can't move the way I would like to. She's never let down my brain. My body has never let me down. I would be dishonest to say, "I love my body and you better also love it, because I do not."

It's dirty. Sand is disgusting. Sand is disgusting. It's impossible. You need me to continue?

Reading your writings, I noticed that you have written quite a bit about the loss of your parents. No one has ever asked you about your grief. Do you have anything to say about this? It may be controversial but I do not miss my parents. They would drain my life and be a burden if they were still alive. They died in 1998. It feels like it was so long ago. Are these people real or figments of my imagination? It's true that people don't like to hear you speak in such a way. I understand this, but it is real. My dad was a gambling addict who was born in 1935. I don't want that old-ass -- he will steal money from me. The bad outweighs all the good. We've had our time and moved on.

My attitude, like 'It is kind of a relieve', not many people do that. I think we should! I'm a snob. Have you ever seen an adult weep over a parent who passed away a decade before? Come on, their moms may have been so much better than mine but stop it! Stop it! Stop it! You don't want to sneeze on their shirts! You should rejoice when you meet someone like me. I will make a joke and then we will talk about something different. Reassembling a messed-up person? Nobody wants to do it. I just wanted to know how you were; I didn't really want to clean a crime scene.

The hardest thing was when everyone said, "Hey, there are these new Black and Brown authors in the room," and assumed that everything they disliked was ours. Everyone was sensitive. It was a sensitive issue. It's a shame that people are just like, "That's a sucka." They didn't think. Maybe they thought too much. But I'm not sure. Season 2 will be hated by many, but it's likely that they'll still watch it.

Now, there is a notion that jokes are too sensitive. What do you think about this? I feel like I'm off-the-hook a bit because I am my own main target, but I find the jokes incredibly sensitive. I was raised on the old black stand-up comics, like Paul Mooney or Richard Pryor. I take nothing personally. I don't want to turn this into a fat-people show but it would be my greatest wish if everyone lived in a 300 pound body for one week. There are fat jokes everywhere, even when there shouldn't be any. And you won't find us blocking traffic in the streets with our huge ases just because someone made a joke. I'm sensitive but don't try to control others. If I dislike something, I won't watch or listen to it. What about the new thing where people are saying, "I don't care for this; it shouldn’t exist"? This is crazy to me. The rules are changing too fast and it's just too much. David, I won't do it. I could care less. I don't give a [expletive] as long as I am not hurting anyone personally.

The interview was edited to make it more clear and concise. It is based on two conversations.