Although I’ve never seen Jessi Klein’s stand-up comedy, nor have I watched Inside Amy Schumer, a show for which Klein won an Emmy as lead writer, I am familiar with her work on the Netflix show Big Mouth. Klein provides the voice for 6th grade girl “Jessi,” who is basically Klein.
Klein shines as a funny writer, and in her memoir, You’ll Grow Out of It, the evidence is on the page. Each essay takes on a different topic, such as how women have been forced to love baths because there is no where else for them to retreat, or what it’s like to coerce your boyfriend into engagement. She writes about the lululemon-wearing rich white ladies who go to a spa. Klein becomes one of these women, finding herself paying $200 for an hour-long one-one-one session with a guy who repeatedly tells her to breathe in for four seconds and out for four seconds.
The writing is over-the-top for the sake of humor. You find yourself laughing that Klein describes her experience trying on a thong that made her look “like a groundhog wearing a tiny belt” only to discover she is quite pretty when you Google her. Biscuit and I read this book together, and we both realized that Googling the author’s image sort of ruined all the essays that made Klein seem like one of us. Before that, in an essay titled “Poodle vs. Wolf,” we highly related to the author. A poodle is a woman who looks flawlessly feminine , like Kiera Knightley. A wolf is a woman who puts a lot of work into it, like Sandra Bullock. Poodles, she writes, “Wear matching bras and underwear.” Wolves, on the other hand, “sweat a lot” and “usually own two bras total.”
One thing that irked me throughout You’ll Grow Out of It was Klein’s obsession with being a “real woman” or “feeling like a woman.” Her examples and language stick out in 2021 when readers are thinking more about transwomen and gender non-conforming people. For reference, the memoir was published in 2016. At one point I believe she even wrote that she thought having a vagina would make her a woman, but I can’t find the quote because I didn’t sticky-note it.
While Biscuit said she didn’t think about how Klein’s book is trans-exclusionary in the way it defines women, she did notice that the author’s obsession with being a “real” woman is tiresome, as if women present themselves the same way, or have ideal characteristics. How exhausting, we both agreed, to be so obsessed with gender, when what Klein really seems to be saying is she wants to be photo-perfect. Even poodle women say dumb things and fart on the couch, Jessi Klein!