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100 Books in a Year: The Fat Girl's Guide to Life by Wendy Shanker

By Tyburn Blossom | Books | March 19, 2009 |

By Tyburn Blossom | Books | March 19, 2009 |

I am a fat girl. I won’t get into too much detail (because who needs that), but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. Eat right? Check. Exercise? Check. Cholesterol low? Check. Blood sugar normal? Check. Blood pressure normal? Check. Warning signs for impending health problems related to being overweight? Not a one.

I’m in good health, I’m just fat. All of the conventional (and unconventional) ways of fixing that last problem haven’t worked (short of surgery, which I think we can agree is taking things a little far when my health is otherwise unaffected by the fat). So there reaches a point where I have to look around and think: Is it really so terrible?

I’m not so much into self-help books. I get their appeal, just not really on a personal level. I’ve read a few, and really did enjoy some of them. And this one really seemed right up my alley.

I can’t tell you what I was expecting, but I couldn’t really enjoy the Fat Girl’s Guide to Life. It felt less like a book that should somehow help me so much as a book in which the author was trying to work painfully through her own issues.

As hard as Ms. Shanker tried to convince me that she had gotten past all of the self-hate, the bitterness and discomfort with herself sort of dripped off of every page. Like maybe she’s almost there, but not quite far enough to be writing anything that goes into self help.

I had a hard time identifying with many of Ms. Shanker’s trials and tribulations, though it’s possible that some other fat girl could read them, sympathize, and even feel inspired. Mostly through this book, though, I wanted to make her a nice cup and tea and tell her that she looks fine, and not to worry so much.

I think what mostly sticks with me is a long passage about how she liked to go to the gym, crank up her headphones, and sing along while she worked out. When someone working there asked her to keep it down, there followed a long, self-indulgent rant about how she deserved to use the gym, and how dare she be treated that way?

And I kind of hated her guts. How fucking rudely was she behaving? And how much like a teenager was her behavior following? If you want to sing while you work out, more power to you. But you really shouldn’t be doing that in a gym where you’re inflicting your concert on other people, whether they’re also working out, or just sitting on the equipment and pretending.

The entire book struck me as self-indulgent and whiny, and I’m not sure I want to be taking advice on how to live my life from someone like that.

I think for now, I’m going to stick with the advice found here:

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Details are here and the growing number of participants and their blogs are here. And check here for more of Tyburn Blossom’s reviews.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.