Laurence Beaudoin-Masse's debut novel, Suck it In and Smile was published to wide acclaim in 2022. Exploring our social media-influenced obsession with perfection and appearance, the young adult novel skewered influencer and wellness culture's toxicity.
The sequel, Say Yes and Keep Smiling (Groundwood Books) finds protagonist Ellie, an influencer trapped in a prison of her own making, about to launch a book of wellness tips and tricks (with gems like replacing most of the ingredients in chocolate chip cookies with chickpeas), to the fevered excitement of her hundreds of thousands of followers.
She and her equally adored musician fiancé appear to have it all, but behind the scenes, Ellie is spiralling. Her disordered eating, which started in Ellie's childhood when her mother pushed her own deeply troubled relationship with food onto her daughter, plagues her private moments, all while a rivalry with a competing influencer threatens to spin out of control.
Parts of the story are told via Ellie's social media, presented without comment by Beaudoin-Masse, who knows readers will pick up on the subtle, sometimes horrifying toxicity on plain display, like comments that praise Ellie for "looking 16" and a male commenter who mentions her "almost perfect" body – comments that are all too realistic and could easily have been lifted from countless influencer's real pages.
In Say Yes and Keep Smiling, Ellie's story gets the nuanced ending it deserves, while Beaudoin-Masse puts her razor sharp writing and wit to good use exploring the endless dissecting of the female body, authenticity in the age of social media, and more.
We're sharing an excerpt from early in the book today, courtesy of Groundwood Books, in which we see some of Ellie's fans' comments and get a glimpse of the pressure Ellie is experiencing, both external and internal.
Content warning: disordered eating
Excerpt from Say Yes and Keep Smiling by Laurence Beaudoin-Masse:
The countdown has begun! My book Radiant is finally coming out on November 23. Find out all about it in my new YouTube video...! To mark the occasion, I’m launching the “15 days to become RADIANT” challenge. Every day I’ll offer a new beauty & well-being tip to incorporate into your daily routine. See you tomorrow morning for the first challenge!
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*CONTEST* I am giving away 10 VIP invitations to my launch. Every comment gives you a chance to win.
Link in bio to pre-order.
See all 3,764 comments
tania.soleil15 DAYS ❤ I AM ABSOLUTELY PARTICIPATING!
mila.mongeau A princess!
roseamanda I really want to get a copy of your book please! I desperately need some motivation.
rebecka_cl Congratulations on the wedding OMG!
yasmena6899 Omg. You are too beautiful I fell in love with your YouTube channel. I could watch your videos at least a thousand times. Sam and you are the best.
cam_cam_cam @solange.veil Are you on board? A 15-day challenge, we’re doing it! I want to be fit for Christmas!
alicemcmuffinEllie, I’m going to buy your book! This is sick! Can’t wait to try the recipes. You are so pretty.
étoilesdesmarais I love the dress so much! Where is it from???
maude_julie Wow wow and WOW! #TeamEllie
julia_aude Yas. I’m ordering right away. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time! ❤
labrie12 You’re beautiful! You inspire me! Congratulations on your weight loss!
elainebilodeau You glow girl!
liam_HP Radiant, that describes you so well. What a beauty!
luanalu If this can make me look a little more like you, I will try it lol.
cynthiapelletier The cover is absolutely gorgeous. So inspiring Ellie.
françois lepage You are a sublime woman with an almost perfect body. Congratulations to you, DM me whenever you want.
juliette.romeo Hello Mrs. Samuel Vanasse ❤❤❤ #Team Ellie&Sam
chaton345I like your vibe Ellie. Radiant and inspiring x 1000.
imjune I’m such a fan!!!!
books&cappuccinos Not really my style sadly.
felicite.proulx @samantha.riri @marie-eve-pelletier
marie-eve-pelletier Lol yuck! @felicite.proulx
Nat_from_the_block You look like you’re 16! Too cute and adorable.
catherine.vd Impossibly beautiful!❤
Sitting at the kitchen island, I plan the posts for the “15 days to become RADIANT” challenge.
I’m trying hard, but... I can retouch the photos in Light Studio, play around with my presets in PICTR, but even though Sam and I have already worked on them for hours, the pictures look like crap. I chew on my thumbnail while I scroll through them on my cell. I can’t decide if the lighting is particularly bad or if I’m particularly ugly.
I sigh. My eyes pass from my book to my screen and from my screen to my book.
I don’t look at all like the girl on the cover. My face is too round. My hair is too thin. My smile looks like it’s pasted on. I look like a cheap imitation of myself...
Okay, don’t panic. There’s always a solution. I just have to find it.
In the meantime, I open my browser. Shop. It’ll do me good to buy something. I type in the first thing that comes to mind. Glamora.com. Reading the product reviews relaxes me. I put anything that tempts me in my cart. A purifying cleanser that will “change your life.” A “revolutionary” resurfacing serum. A radiance- boosting face mask that will “save the day.” And, while I’m at it, “shine enhancing” lip gloss.
I click on my shopping cart. $232. Huh.
I take out the lip gloss. $218. Uh-huh. I try to remember the balance that I have to pay off on my credit card. Uh-huh. Yup. I think about the boxes of products that are piling up beside my desk. Okay. I close the tab. I can always come back to it later if I reconsider. (And I always reconsider.)
I make an effort to concentrate on my photos.
Ughhhh. Focus, Ellie, focus.
I scroll through the images on my screen and I have a vision. The jar of peanut butter in the cupboard, second shelf on the left. Good grief, could I be hungry already?
Yes, I think so... Or not. It’s not clear. Doesn’t matter. Just a tiny spoonful.
I glance at the living room where Sam is composing. The coast is clear. I take the jar, a spoon and go back to my spot at the island.
Mistake. Big mistake. Three spoonfuls later, I’m regretting it, but I tell myself that at this point...
I get up, rummage around in my mason jars, find the mini chocolate chips well hidden behind the legumes. I sprinkle ten or so on top of my spoonful of peanut butter and swallow. It’s a party in my mouth. I dig back in. Sprinkle. Five spoonfuls. Six. Seven.
No. I open the trash can and guiltily spit out the last one.
I need to love myself more than this. I can do it. I must be my own best friend. Why am I not capable of being my best friend? Spend less, eat less, meditate more.
I quickly rearrange the jars. Wash my spoon. Brush my teeth. Drink a big glass of water.
Then decide that I have no choice. I download Face Optimizer. I promised myself I would never do this, but it’s temporary. Just this once. Just until I get fit again, get disciplined. Get back in the right state of mind that I was in six months ago.
I reach for my book. Put it in front of me to compare. I select one of the photos for the contest. The one I’ll publish first. I zoom in. Start to edit. It’s easy. I’ve already watched plenty of tutorials on YouTube. I reproduce the proportions to match my body on the cover. Accentuate my waist, just a little. A little more. And just a teensy bit more. I fine-tune my thighs to balance everything out. My arms. Hollow out my cheeks a bit because at this point...
You have to pay attention to the lines in the background because that’s a dead giveaway — a distorted doorframe, a warp in the kitchen counter. The one thing that can’t happen is... that I get caught.
But as long as we’re here, I smooth out my skin, reduce my dark circles, brighten my eyes.
Ah. That’s better. Much better.
Good. One down. Fourteen to go. I promise myself I will never do this again. Promise myself I’ll lose the weight for real. That it’s the end of the chocolate chips. My launch is in fifteen days. I have fifteen days.
Tomorrow I’ll be back in the right mindset. Tomorrow.
Laurence Beaudoin-Masse has written two novels: Suck It in and Smile (originally published as Rentrer son ventre et sourire) and its sequel. She is a concept editor for Radio-Canada. Laurence would like to help girls who, like her, never feel like they measure up. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.