Wendy Shanker has written for national women's magazines, she's hosted fashion shows, she's traveled far and wide to gather the data she's compiled for the The Fat Girl's Guide to Life. Ok, maybe not "far and wide" but she has first hand experience. She's 32 years old and she has been fat most of her life. Now she's putting that experience to good use.
Being a fat girl myself, I was curious what Shanker had to say. Shanker's style is blunt and to the point. She says it like it is (or at least as she sees it) with a little bit of sarcastic sometimes comedic twist. She isn't degrading like most fat humorists. She is respectful but truthful. Her raw humour made it easy to read. But this book definitely isn't all about humour. It's about being fat in a media infested world.
Shanker's book is not what I'd call a step by step guide but a "get real" guide. It's time to admit you're "Fat" and then get on with it...Life. Stop dwelling on how you don't have Cameron Diaz's thighs and go have some fun.
In the introduction, Shanker doesn’t promise any cures for being fat (there are enough of those claiming that already) or for improving your self-esteem. She maintains that "I'm not one hundred percent self-satisfied but I'm trying; I'm closer." After years of self torture she can say "I know there's nothing wrong with me mentally and physically."
Shanker doesn't think we should be afraid to use the word "Fat" to describe ourselves (for any non-fat person out there: we can call ourselves fat but no one else can). "You're here, you're fat, get use to that!" she says. She also believes in standing up for ourselves when society is rude. Being an advocate for ourselves is also a necessity. She suggests, if a medical professional says something unprofessional then let them know even if you have to write a letter so they don't do it to the next fat person.
She touches on self loathing, binging, the diet industry and the media industry without beating the topics to death. Even Oprah isn't safe from her prying eyes and stinging wit. Everything is fair game for conversation even her lack of bowel movements. She is bold, fearlessly attacking and industry of "body image".
Weight loss programs? Well she can't say enough about them. I like how she compared them to every other product we buy. It is the only product we buy in which we blame ourselves if it doesn't work. She reviews how weight loss companies and fast food chains have invaded our lives, lifestyles and bank accounts. She attacks Weight Watchers head on and how they are designed to keep us coming back. She's the Michael Moore of the fat world.
Instead of wasting money on dieting schemes that don't work for the average person she recommends the common sense approach: Stop dieting, eat healthy and exercise. Eat what you want as long as you eat healthy and exercise MOST of the time. She offers no diet plans or exercise routines. "We are responsible for our own decisions about our bodies," she says.
Obviously, Shanker is just one more opinion in the sea but at least hers floats on an inner tube of common sense. I love this woman! I love the book! I could relate to most of what she said and felt such a relief in reading it. I am no longer alone. I found myself reading sections over again (I won't say which ones because that's personal to my own melodrama and you'll probably have your own favourites). Numerous times I felt she was looking into my head. Yikes! I don't even want to be there half the time.
This book isn't just for fat people. It's for the people who love fat people, date fat people, are friends with fat people and for people who just don't understand fat people (a.k.a. the "thin" people).
Shanker is here to let the world know that fat people "aren't all jolly, we aren't asexual, we aren't lazy, and we aren't all depressos zoning out in front of the TV sets with ice cream melting down our chins." She wants us all to be able to respect ourselves, our bodies and be able to handle the rude people who aren't comfortable enough in their own lives that they have to try to make someone else unhappy.
Through her personal experience and empowering dialogue I think she's setting an example. I'm looking forward to her next book. Perhaps The Fat Girl's Guide to Life: Part II.
Purchase The Fat Girl's Guide to Life from Amazon.com.
Purchase The Fat Girl's Guide to Life from Amazon.ca.