Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
Reasons for reading: I've had Lancaster recommended to me several times, I liked the sound of her snarkiness; I needed some weight-loss motivation; first book for the Fall Into Reading Challenge
First line: "Today on the bus a guy called me a fat bitch."
My thoughts: I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. The last time I read a weight-loss memoir, it was the abysmal Food and Loathing. It left me feeling pretty flat. But Lancaster's reputation for humour is well-founded - I enjoyed this one a lot.
One of my favourite parts was when she and her friend got on a riff about how no-one ever uses "You have such a pretty face..." for anything but being overweight. It's never followed by anything like "...if only you weren't as dumb as a bag of hair" or "...too bad your children were spawned by Satan."
I liked that Jen didn't care either that she was fat or a bitch with the guy on the bus. I've been called both separately and at the same time, and I've never managed to be particularly nonchalant about it (there's usually crying involved). Actually, one of the sad parts of the book was that she started out with really amazing self-esteem and gradually lost it as she tried to diet. It seems like it came back, thankfully, but I really felt for her, since I already feel bad most of the time, and I find that becoming obsessed with eating right and exercising does definitely put lots of pressure on my already iffy self-esteem.
I was glad to see a realistic portrayal of weight loss - that it is possible with hard work, but you'll have setbacks and it won't be easy. You're going to be angry, sore, frustrated, and hungry. Jen also came to the conclusion that losing weight and getting healthy has a lot to do with growing up - even if you're almost 40. At almost-35, I think I'm in that same boat.
The only slightly non-"realistic" thing was that, of course, trying to lose weight became Jen's job. I could spend hours counting calories and having double-workout days, too, if I didn't have to work 8 hours a day. I think it was great that she was able to do it, and obviously she couldn't have written the book if she didn't, but most people don't have that luxury. And I'm not saying she doesn't realize that - I'm just a bit sensitive when people lose weight outside of an average person's life and then we all feel we should be able to do it easily. I've never really forgiven Oprah (all you need is a personal chef and trainer at your beck and call 24/7!) for it, actually.
The verdict: I'll definitely be reading more of Jen's books for some good laughs. And, she helped inspire me to start going to a personal trainer! So, thanks, Jen!