Member Reviews

Thank you first to NetGalley and the publishers for an eARC of this book. Second, I really wanted to like this more than I did. That's not to say it was particularly unenjoyable-- objectively it was a pretty good read. I just think I was looking for something else. I might revisit this later though!

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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Thank you to #Netgalley #Chatwinbooks and T&Gpublisging for granting me access to this arc in return for an honest review.

Tough Pleasures is an authentic, original photographic portraiture of women in domestic settings depicting feminity, womanhood and our trying relationships with food. Wilkinson examines the duality of food, using wit, to remonstrate the impact food and diet can have on a woman's well-being, self-image, self-worth and sexuality.
I particularly liked Wilkinson's portraits of children to highlight how crucial our relationship with food is from the earliest years. Difficulties with food and eating can arise from such young ages.
This is a visual document to enable discussions about food and our attitudes and beliefs toward it. Food is about so much more than nutrition and sustenance.
Although this book focuses on women, I have no doubt similar issues arise among all of us to some extent.

Highly recommended.

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The collection of photographs was impactful, evoking emotions and a strong message regarding women's control. It was inclusive and diverse in its representation of women and their varying relationships with their bodies and food.

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Oddly compelling. Each picture is so awkward and thought provoking. I couldn’t stop studying each picture. The subjects aren’t models but real people, that you can feel have lived real lives through the pictures.

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While I understand the underlying concept and appreciate the photographer's skill with portraiture, I just did not enjoy the aesthetics of this collection.

I received an electronic version of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tough Pleasures is a collection of photos of women with food. Without context, this may seem very mundane or domestic, or even absurd. But make sure you don’t skip the essay at the beginning of the book which tells us why Toni Wilkinson chose to capture women with food. The women in the photos are of varying ages, right from kids to somebody in their 60’s. The photos were created because of the complex relationship that women have / end up having due to cultural influences with food. With context of the essay, you can actually create your owns tories about each of these women, including young girls in their pre-teens or teens which is when most women start having a complicated relationship with what they eat.

Definitely a great way to depict this topic.

Thanks to NetGalley and Chatwin Books and T&G Publishing for the advance copy.

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This was a poignant and evocative collection of photographs that created a powerful message of control for women. It was inclusive and diverse with the representation of women and the differing relationships with both body and food.

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Thank you Netgalley and publisher for the arc in exchange of an honest review.

This book had such an Powerful impact.
The series of photographs presents a unique and thought-provoking take on the role of women in the home and society as a whole. It explores the relationship of food in early life.

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**I would like to thank NetGalley, Chatwin Books and T&G Publishing, and Toni Wilkinson for an ARC of this book! This is now available as of 4/4/23!**

This photo anthology begins with an essay. I loved this essay. It spoke about food as it relates to women, children, and identity. It really set the scene for the photo to follow and spoke to the heart of Wilkinson. Below is the section that I loved the most:

"Culture tells women that they can't appear as too much, so they try and make themselves disappear, and with that comes all the associated self-shame, public shaming, and eating dysfunction. This too muchness reverberates in these pictures too, reminding us that the ideal woman is often to be like a Victorian child - attractively and acceptably presented and rarely heard. An excess of female tends to cause panic."

I was really interested in this book with the idea of relationships with food and how that is portrayed with women. The bio is definitely what caught my attention as well as the cover. The pictures definitely hit the "absurd" aspect on the head. But that's all it was to me. I didn't feel anything else. They were just absurd photos of people holding food. I truly wanted to feel everything that Wilkinson spoke about in the the essay, but the photos just didn't express her vision to me.

While I loved the essay portion, my rating is low because this is a book I'd pick up at the store (solely because of the cover), flip through a few pages, and then immediately put it down. It did open my eyes to this subject matter and I'd be interested to read more about it.

"Women can have their cake and eat it too."

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Thanks to Netgalley and Chatwin Books for the ARC of this!

I found the description of this so intriguing but I wasn’t expecting to feel as emotional as I did looking over all the photographs. They were visually interesting, tied together with good & women, and really spoke to me.

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Brilliant essay and some stunning photographs to go alongside it - women being completely emotionless when it comes to food is almost a juxtaposition, we are usually pictured to be either obsessed or repulsed by it!

Thank you for access to this advanced copy in exchange for a review.

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The premise of this portrait series is very powerful and thought-through. However, I'm afraid that these photographs don't have an equal impact without the explanation and the curatorial essay.

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Thank you, Net Galley, Chatwin Books and T&G Publishing for this opportunity.

Firstly I want to start by saying I have never reviewed a photography anthology before but Tough Pleasures called to me. Women and Food have always had a complicated relationship whether we look at it from women being diminished to only their duties in the kitchen or seeing food as the enemy of the desired body size: food and women have been through the cycles multiple times.

That's why it is so interesting to see photography of women holding different food items with no hatred, love, contempt or anything specific. It feels like they are acknowledging it and making peace with it.

I also loved the background getting of every picture, you can tell there is a lot of detail and the pictures on the walls in the background correlate greatly with the overall picture.


All in all, I enjoyed this and Tough Pleasures has given me a lot to think about.

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I feel like the author accomplished her goal: challenging the relationship of women and food and portraying women and food not necessarily in unexpected, but in thought-provoking manner.
Still, the photographs became quite repetitive, especially since there wasn’t much diversity.

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I enjoyed reading the intro to how this book came about. The photography was golden. I felt inspired to do things out side of the box. In my opinion the only issue I had was I would have loved to see more diversity in this book.

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A neat collection of thought provoking photographs centred around women and food. I was definitely drawn to some of the photographs, there was interesting compositions. I liked the concept of the book as a whole. Art is subjective so it's hard to give it a rating based on wether or not the art spoke to me personally. I feel like the author achieved what she set out to accomplish with this book.

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This book was a visually stunning representation of when femininity and food culture clash. Packed with photographs of women from all different ages and background, the photographer skillfully and intentionally created scenes that emulated real life. The essay at the beginning did a wonderful job at setting the tone and beginning dialogue.

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I received a copy of this in exchange for my honest review. Thank you NetGalley.

As a photographer myself, I'm always pretty excited for any sort of photography based book.
Tough Pleasures contains a collection of photographs by Toni Wilkinson. The "theme" of these photos is Austrailian women / girls holding an item of food. The photographs were certainly lovely and had a variety of backdrops and models. It showed diversity, which is certainly important.

I did enjoy the photographs, but I will admit that as a photographer, I couldn't help but nitpick some little things too, haha.

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3.5 ⭐️
Thank you NetGalley and Chatwin Books and T&G Publishing for a pre-publication review copy of this book.

It’s quite hard to rate/review a photography book and this is my first of its kind so here goes.

This book is a collection of photographs taken by Toni Wilkinson of a diverse range of Australian woman and girls holding an item of food. They’re all in various ‘poses’ with different backdrops of an ranging for a home bar to fine art copies. What I liked most is Wilkinson’s choice of model in that there is nothing really linking them but all portray the ‘normal’ and the diversity is great, none were explicitly queer but then again how can you detect queerness by looking at someone. The contrast of photographs of women taken by a women to art pieces of woman/female ideals by men is done well and something to pick up on whole looking at these images. The use of colour and lighting is effective and I feel the images where it’s more planned don’t show as much but are more pleasing to look at - my favourite was ‘Maria with red capsaicin’ for sure, really lovely photograph with great use of the light on the subject allowing her skin to shine and the other colours stand out.

The essay by Susan Bright, at the beginning was a very interesting read and certainly helped in the analysis of the photographs. She talks about the relationship between gender (sexuality, femininity, attraction) and food (cooking, consumption, cleaning, dieting, etc) which isn’t something I really thought about but did pique my interests. The reader/viewer isn’t really told what to think but encouraged to instead leading to subjectivity and nuance with multiple meanings taken from each image. It’s also good and allowing one’s imagination run wild about the lives of the subjects via them but also the setting which is their home (I think). It’s described as ‘current and timeless’ which I would definitely agree with.

My favourite part of this book comes from the essay about the subjects: ‘These are women who make up a community - stern, shy, lacking in self-confidence, bold, silly, funny ... all the emotions, as all women possess. They are 'normal' women who we see on the street, in the supermarket, at the doctors. They are women we work with and who live quite undramatic suburban lives. They are you and I. They are important; they are the majority but are also so often overlooked.’

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