More of Me to Love: A review of Wendy Shanker’s The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life
First: Anyone interested enough to check out this book and read my review might also be interested in visiting the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination.
Pay particular attention to their FAQ before deciding to make random accusations about the irresponsible lack of health concerns in encouraging fat people to love themselves and be happy (or at least okay/tolerant) with who they are the way they are.
To the review, I must say that I don’t particularly agree with everything the author says or has done as recorded in this book. However, I really don’t think that’s what it is about. She goes into length and backstory regarding many of her dieting and weight loss strategies. If you aren’t paying attention to the shifts I suppose you might become confused. I thought they were plain as day, though not necessarily chronologically organized from beginning to end. Regardless, I noticed some other reviewers seemed to be confused by them which caused feedback that indicated to me they didn’t understand when a shift was occurring.
I found Wendy’s story very interesting and her honest opinions regarding herself and the situation to be refreshing. Yes, they present a person who is still a bit torn about accepting herself, but it is honest. I think the book would better be titled A Fat Girl’s Guide to Life (rather than THE) because of this. There are several calls to action and her research appears well done in the areas of fat vs. fit.
I found multiple little things inspiring in the book. I felt relieved to read something that understood the frustration I feel when people who just don’t understand go around assuming, or when I turn on the TV for another fat stereotype, or open a book, or magazine, or any number of widely spread media trash to view more fat slamming misinformation and hate. We do need to accept ourselves first, to claim our Fat and not let others wield cruelty and assign negative stereotypes on us. We also should be more accepting and tolerant of the “fat” in others. If we hope to be accepted, we should also be willing to accept others as well. If we deserve love and respect, we should keep ourselves open-minded enough to see the potential in others who also run contrary to the societal “hottie” vote.
In particular, I found four things very interesting in this book.
1. The section where she explains jealousy as the possible motive of fattie-hate behaviors. This never occurred to me. As she states immediately, why on earth would anyone be jealous of this (grabs and shakes her extra baggage). It isn’t that they’re jealous of the pouch, but that many of them are jealous of what they think you do and eat all day while they work hard and deny themselves. You are breaking the rules by being fat and it’s not fair, so you must be punished more than the fat pouch and baggage alone can deal. This is very short-sighted since there are so many reasons people get fat that are beyond their control (my own included).
2. Very briefly she points out seeing other Fat chicks and finding them pretty, whether it be their confident attitude and smart style of dress, we may look at them and completely forget to do to them what we do to ourselves. I am so guilty of this. I walk by the mirror and mostly try not to look, especially if I’m in any stage of undress. I hate that image there, the one I’ve been working so hard to slim back down only for nearly every other person I know to question what I’m really doing and not doing that has me still fat. That emotional baggage is attached to my own image. However, I’ve looked at plenty of other fat women and find myself thinking she’s so pretty. I don’t even find myself thinking anything along the lines of how she’d be hot if she weren’t so fat. I might briefly wish Hollywood hired more women like her though to dispel the negative stereotypes pushed on all of us. We’re already full, quit shoving more things into our rolls! Why should I, working hard to be the best person, mother, wife, and more that I can, look in the mirror and hate what I see just because of the fat I can’t get rid of? I’m far more than my fat.
3. I found her suggestion to familiarize ourselves with our fat to be an interesting idea. To really feel it, appreciate certain qualities it does have. It’s not hard and unforgiving, but soft, pliable, and comforting.
4) There are far more pressing and important things to devote our time and energies to than worrying over a few pounds and our image in the mirror. There are also more worthwhile things we could be doing with our money rather than feeding dieting systems designed to keep us paying for life. I like the idea of just trying to remain as fit as possible and donating diet program expenses to your favourite charities instead. I so get this. Being healthy is important, but so are priorities and noticing that dieting programs usually have a “*results not typical” message somewhere.
Ultimately, the lesson here is about loving yourself and being more focused on being fit rather than fat or thin. That, I believe, is an essential key to this. Besides, even if you are one of those whose extra weight is unhealthy (rather than genetically normal and still healthy), weight loss based on a desire to be thin (or not as fat) is usually what leads to yo-yo dieting and more weight gained later on. It’s hard work to keep up the perseverance to keep going and to consistently point out negative fat stereotypes or the obvious to these people is to depower them, deflate them, defeat them. After that, it’s even harder, if not impossible to maintain the energy levels needed to change to and create new, healthier habits. People must feel empowered to stick with something hard and care enough about themselves to take the best care of their bodies they can. Shaming and hate depower us. The confidence boost is necessary, if only to help those of us who simply cannot lose the weight still realize we are valuable people and not the stereotypes pressed upon us by society. We are FAT.
When I say there is more of me to love, I mean it in every sense. Literally, there is more of me, yikes! Like Wendy, I’m still trying to learn to love it while/as long as it’s here. Figuratively…I am far more worthwhile and there is far more to me, as a person, than the limitations stamped and stereotyped into my fat. There is far more to everyone than meets the eye. Whatever your fat is, love it and take care of it and stand against anyone trying to push you down for it.
In short, I recommend this book to anyone with a heavily stereotyped and devalued trait. I also recommend it to people who want to help fat loved ones, or simply don’t get “Fat” people and think they are lazy gross slobs. Of course, I highly doubt the latter will give it a serious read. You should at least educate yourselves with the FAQ at CSWD.