Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Sarcastic Take on Weight Loss

Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big or Why Pie Is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster

In her third memoir, Jen Lancaster documents her battle to lose weight after selling a book proposal based on the idea. While being just as humorous and sarcastic as in her previous two books, she also offers some valid insights and critiques of the culture, and the weight loss industry. She becomes very frustrated with Jenny Craig, which served as a good starting point, but got old very quickly, and proved rather inflexible for real life. As she noticed at both Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers (the meeting, not the website), there is too much of a focus on counting calories, and barely any on exercise (although she really liked the Weight Watcher's Point system). After telling her Jenny Craig counselor about a personal training session, the woman tells her, "You should just try walking" (249).

As her husband notes, after she begins dieting, Jen is "completely fixated on body image, and [she] never [was] before" (107). I could actually relate to that statement because when we first got to Iraq, and I started working out more than usual, I became a lot more frustrated with my appearance and what I thought of as a lack of progress than I'd been before. By the end of the book, Jen has lost the weight she set out to lose, but more importantly, she is healthier, fitter and also thinks she has finally grown up. She is still overweight, but she isn't afraid of food (another complaint she had about the weight loss programs), and is happy with herself - not that she wasn't before.

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