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Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self Hardcover – January 13, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; 1 edition (January 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767912918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767912914
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,767,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Literary agent Kuffel chronicles how and why, at the age of 42 and a weight of around 313 pounds, she began the successful process of losing 188 pounds. She describes food binges, ill health (surgeons remove a 36-pound ovarian cyst) and frantic calls to her support group sponsor. But this is far more than 12-step, inspirational reading. Above all, Kuffel tells a great story. She possesses an eye for detail, a knack for dialogue and a remarkable sense of humor in the face of adversity. Mounting a treadmill at the gym for the first time in her life, she closes her eyes and misjudges her pace, "shooting off like a rejected can of Jolly Green Giant peas." When she leaves Manhattan in an "August pall of heat and rusty horizons" to show off her weight loss to her family back home in Montana, she inhales on the Missoula airstrip: "ozone, clover, and cinnamon lingered from the thunderstorms the night before." And Kuffel sees humor even when writing of serious events. For example, she describes waking up and finding herself on a ventilator in the hospital after hours of intestinal surgery. At her bedside is her friend Dennis, who smoothes her hair and deadpans, "I thought you'd want to know your wallet is safe." By the book's bittersweet end, Kuffel has begun dating, but starts to binge as she feels like an inexperienced adolescent. Yet she finds her equilibrium in nature, realizing that although she may lose in love, she can now realize her childhood dream of hiking Montana's peaks.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School--This out-of-the-ordinary book and its smart, dry, sometimes-wicked-but-vulnerable author will have readers in love after the first few pages. Kuffel acknowledges that she began overeating because she loves food and because eating can be a mind-blowing sensual experience. (Her food descriptions are divine, but even better is her confession that she loved the "Little House" books primarily for Laura Ingalls Wilder's great food writing.) At the same time, she doesn't let anyone off the hook for how she was treated after she became fat. When she asked her father what "o-bee-sess" means, he bluntly replied, "Obese. That's you." The upbeat subtitle notwithstanding, as much as she found a self, Kuffel lost one when she lost weight. She writes of realizing that she used to have 30 seconds or so when meeting strangers to "distract" them from her fat and win them over by packing as much wit and show-offy intelligence into the introduction as possible. Moving from fat to "normal" was as psychologically grueling a shift as it was a physical one, and there were moments of delight and moments of naked fear. This memoir recalls Sharon Flake's The Skin I'm In(Hyperion, 1998). Kuffel's book would work well paired with it in a book group or classroom. How'd she lose the weight? That's not the point, but it's in the book, too. An important, essential purchase for which YA patrons will thank you.--Emily Lloyd, Rehoboth Beach Public Library, DE
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

A baby boomer born & raised in Missoula, MT. I'm working on a couple of projects these days, coaching writers and walking dogs.

Author of Angry Fat Girls: Five Women, Five Hundred Pounds and a Year of Losing It... Again and Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self.

You can find out more about my books, me, Daisy/Boomer/Hero/Henry, the Bat Cave and my ongoing explosion of shoes at franceskuffel.net

Customer Reviews

This book reveals her journey to weight loss.
Lee Mellott
I found this so offensive, it's hard for me to put into words how I felt when I read it.
Amory
Thanks to Frances Kuffel for telling us her story.
"catmarler"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

238 of 250 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought I was going to like both this memoir and its author, but I came away feeling ambivalent about both. (I read about Frances Kuffel in a magazine, and got the impression that her book would be well worth reading, but I did not find that to be the case.)
What put me off the most about Passing for Thin was that, despite having once been fat herself, Kuffel seems devoid of empathy for those who are still fat. She refers to a woman in her OA program as a "fatty" and to her lover's obese son as "Dudley Dursley". (Harry Potter's cousin.) This might be an apt comparison in that Dudley Dursley is indeed obese, but he is also mean, petty and spoiled rotten, so it seems more than a little unkind of Kuffel to mention this particular fictional character when writing about her lover's son.
Having lost half her weight, Kuffel now seems as contemptuous of the obese as the people who used to give her "appalled second glances" when she herself was obese.
I was also put off by Kuffel's relentless narcissism. It's very peculiar that she would choose Janeane Garofalo as a role model, because as far as I can tell, these women have very little in common. Garofalo has been quoted as saying (about a time in her life when she lost a lot of weight in the hope that it would help her land more parts) she hates the vanity that goes with being thin. Kuffel, on the other hand, seems to embrace this kind of vanity, going on and on about various aspects of her appearance. (I watch What Not to Wear and buy fashion magazines from time to time, so the fact that even I was bored by the endless descriptions of Kuffel's various outfits is saying a lot.
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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful By K. Combs on September 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I agree with some of the other reviewers in that sometimes I didn't like Frances. Sometimes she is whiny and self-pitying. Sometimes I wanted to grab her and say "get over it, girl!" But I applaud her for such a raw, open accounting of herself and her journey. Weight loss is hard. Adjusting to the results of weight loss is harder.

I know, because I am in the middle of that journey myself. In the last 18 months I have lost 125 lbs, on my way to losing 175. To those who commented that it seemed like the book was written by two different women (Fat Frances and Thin Frances), I can say that weight loss *can* turn you into a different person inside as well. The way I relate to the world is completely different. My role, as I see it, and as others see it, is completely different. At age 33, that's going to cause some tension and some problems. I see tension and changes in some of my relationships. I'm trying to keep an eye on them and nurture them through the changes. So far I haven't lost any of them, but I could see it happening.

To those who said Frances became more selfish... it's true. I definitely find myself being more selfish. Why? Because I spent most of my childhood and early adulthood desperately trying to make people like me and "overcome" the fact that I was fat. Now it's time to do some things just for me, and just because I want to do them. Doesn't mean I'm becoming mean-spirited or self-involved, I'm just beginning to really love and value myself and recognize that sometimes I have to put myself first.

Her story was so compelling to me that it has inspired me to write my own. Might take a while (particularly since the story is not finished yet) but I think this aspect of weight loss desperately needs more attention.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Isis on February 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read Frances Kuffel's "Passing for Thin" with mixed emotions. As a person who has (and continues to) struggle with weight, body issues and weight loss, I could readily identify with many of the topics Kuffel writes about.
For instance, she writes about needing to wear shorts underneath a denim dress to prevent chafing of her inner thighs in the summer...and of being refused entry to an amusement park ride - and the condescending remarks of pity offered by one woman afterwards as a sort of consolence...and of being hot and feeling in poor health all the time...so much of this a large reader can understand intimately.
I also think she does a very good job of showing, early in the book, how family dynamics affect her weight gain...her family (and one brother, in particular), come across as very insensitive to her during her childhood.
Yes, Frances Kuffel has spent much time on "Planet Fat" (her own descriptive phrase for what it's like living as a very fat person in this world) and she knows alot about the terrain, the rules and so forth.
She also does a fine job showing how difficult it is to make the transition from "Planet Fat" to a normal life in a "normal" body after her loss of about 150 pounds. (Not just in terms of the physical weight loss...but how, mentally, emotionall and spiritually she had to adapt to a new way of living and being in the world after her huge weight loss).
Despite all this, I did have some problems with the book.
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