Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Fat Girl

Judith Moore had an incredibly sad childhood. Her parents divorced when she was 6 and she didn't see her father again until she was well into adulthood. Her abusive mother resented her and her grandmother couldn't stand the sight of her.  She rarely had friends and was often picked on because of her size.

At an early age Judith turned to food for solace and comfort and Fat Girl is not only about her tormented childhood but it offers some glimpses into how her love of food effected her adult life as well.

It's taken me a few weeks to put into words how I actually feel about this book. On the one hand, it is a brutally honest account of an obese person. I appreciated the fact that Judith doesn't make excuses and she doesn't sugarcoat her descriptions of the type of person she is. For example, near the end of the book, Judith talks about how when she was eleven she used to break into the home of the Reverend of her church. For an entire month, she broke into their house almost daily, eating their food and digging through their things. About this Judith writes:

You who are reading here may have an idea about why I broke into the Fisher's ranch-style house and rather dangerously hung around and made afternoon snacks. I was hungry for love. I know that. But so are many sad hungry children and they don't rummage people's living quarters and eat their food.

I liked how she blamed no one but herself for her actions.

On the other hand, this book got really old, really quickly. It was just one sad story after another. I felt a lot of sympathy for the young Judith because she was definitely dealt a really cruddy hand and, as a child, had very little control over her own life. But Judith as an adult, was (at least in this book) insufferable. She blames just about every bad thing that happens in her life on the fact that she's fat. She writes:

I hate myself. I have almost always hated myself. I have good reasons for hating myself, but it's not for bad things I've done. I do not hate myself for betrayals, for going behind the back of someone who trusted me. I hate myself because I am not beautiful. I hate myself because I am fat.

I think what I disliked most about this book was that Judith was shallow. When thinking of shallow people the mind often goes to someone who is classically beautiful, in shape, and maybe spends a lot of money on their appearance. But I think anyone who devotes an unhealthy amount of time to outward appearances can be shallow, and that's how I would describe Judith. Her attitude about the way she looked overshadowed every conversation she had and every relationship she was in. It became so boring.

In trying to get more insight into what Judith Moore was thinking, I did some internet research and found this article that came out in 2006, right after Moore died of colon cancer. The article states that "though Ms. Moore wrote in tones of self-loathing about being fat, and was at times overweight, she was not morbidly obese. Sometimes her weight was within normal range." Her daughter says that Moore portrayed herself as this huge, hideous woman because that's essentially what was beaten into her. 

No matter what her weight was, she was always going to be the fat girl.


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I don't think I could read this, it may make me angry.
Sounds like my sister.

Was she really hated by her grandmother or is that just her perception like her size was her view not the worlds?
It's interesting though.

Great review Tammie!

Daphne said...

Unfortunately this sounds a little like She's Come Undone, which I haaaaaaaaaated.

Tammie said...

peggy: i honestly don't know. she describes her grandmother as this hateful person but i don't know if we'll ever know the truth.

daph: it was A LOT like She's Come Undone and i was definitely reminded of that book while reading this one. except this wasn't fiction, which makes it even more depressing.

mandy said...

tammie, this is such a great review. i know you've mentioned before you've considered writing book reviews to publish, i really really think you should give it a go!