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Skinny Bitching: A thirty-something woman mouths off about age angst, pregnancy pressure, and the dieting battles you'll never win Paperback – October 25, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385337876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385337878
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,079,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jenny Lee was born in Tennessee and now lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and their dog, Wendell, a Wheaton Terrier. She writes for Animal Fair, Redbook, and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

SKINNY BITCHING:

Why I Hate Diets, Exercise, and
Anyone Skinnier than Me

At the age of thirty-three, I'm almost ready to give up on the fantasy of ever being a Skinny Bitch.

How the whole Skinny Bitch thing works is like this: Any woman who's superskinny is a Skinny Bitch, and we hate her (all of us who are less skinny than she is). But just because we hate her doesn't mean that we wouldn't do just about anything to be skinny like her--and when I say "just about anything," I mean JUST ABOUT ANYTHING (well, besides actually eating a sensible diet and exercising every day, because, hey, we gotta draw the line somewhere). . . .

The most interesting thing to note about the whole Skinny Bitch concept is that it's completely relative. So what constitutes a Skinny Bitch to me is not necessarily what will do it for you. My husband once sweetly pointed out that if one were to be consistent about this approach, then I myself would be seen as a Skinny Bitch by those larger than me. After a moment's pause, I quickly waved off this idea. Because the whole Skinny Bitch philosophy is built on a way of thinking that is completely personal (and most certainly irrational). It's no comfort to me that I happen to be someone else's idea of a Skinny Bitch; I want to be my own idea of a Skinny Bitch. Which was where my husband threw his arms in the air, shook his head, and walked off, muttering under his breath, "Crazy bitch might be more apt."

"I HEARD THAT!" I yelled after him.
But I wasn't really mad. Because in a way he had a point.


I suck in my stomach whenever I get on my scale. Sure, I know it's irrational, but when it comes to women and their relationships with scales, there's no room for logic (I'm convinced that logic adds at least a pound or two). Once I'm on the scale, I immediately close my eyes. You'd think I could close my eyes first and then step on the scale, since it's right in front of me and only two inches off the ground, but once I misstepped and tipped the scale, managing to crash headfirst into my towel rack, which caused a bump that was definitely big enough to add some weight to my grand total, so I wasn't able to get on the scale for, like, a week, which in retrospect wasn't such a bad thing.

SO--once I'm safely on the scale, I take a deep breath, which I rapidly exhale in order to empty my lungs of all the air that my husband assures me doesn't weigh anything (listen, just because he was a physics major at MIT and is now a doctor doesn't necessarily mean he knows everything). It goes without saying that I'm totally buck-naked--no watch, no wedding ring, no hair bands--and, depending on the level of my pre-weigh-in dread, I may have even shaved my legs in preparation (no, my legs are not that hairy, but if a few epithelial cells can be all that stand in the way of getting caught for murder [I'm a big CSI fan], then they can certainly be the difference that'll tip the scale that one pound wherein lies the difference between utter wretchedness and your standard dissatisfaction). Cynical, I know, but you show me a woman who's an optimist when facing the scale, and I'll hold her skinny arms so we can both beat her senseless.

This is about when I open my eyes and stare at my bathroom wall a moment before my eyes make their journey downward and I begin singing a little song in my head that I wrote for just this occasion. It goes something like this: please please please please please please please please please!!! The nice thing about my lyrics is that they'll basically work with any tune.

Most days my weight is exactly what I'd expect it to be, and I have learned simply to accept it as a disappointing fact of life, since it's always been ten pounds over what I swear I'd be happy with; twenty pounds over what I'd sell my soul for; and thirty pounds over what I'd be if I were a celebrity with my own personal trainer, chef, and plastic surgeon. Now, granted, my weight has fluctuated by fifteen pounds throughout my twenties and early thirties, but my desire to lose ten for happiness and twenty for my soul has always remained more or less a constant.

Don't get me wrong--I'm certainly not complaining about the days when my weight is exactly what I expect it to be. Because those days when you get on the scale and are actually a pound or two heavier than what you thought you were are nothing short of a living hell (and, no, it's not water weight, because I don't even get on the scale the week before my period anymore, PMS and scales being a dangerous combination, not unlike PMS and chocolate).

The first thing I do on such days is give my scale a stern talking-to. "Oh, no you don't. Like hell I've gained two pounds." The second thing I do is get off the scale for a second or two and then get back on it (I'm nothing if not fair), and if it still reads the same, then I'm forced to take action.

Mainly this consists of moving my scale to a different part of the bathroom in hopes that the subtle shift in the slope of the floor may change the outcome in my favor--or perhaps my own placement in relation to, you know, the earth's gravitational pull (look, I know this makes no sense, but remember what I said about logic? Out the window and ready for a chalk outline on the sidewalk below, okay?). And don't smirk like that, because once in a while it works.

Next I decide that the scale may actually be extremely dirty, and may have accumulated some added dust weight or something. So out come the paper towels and Windex.
And then, if my last resort of trying to pee again fails, it's time to reach for the big guns. . . .


It's a known fact that most new gym memberships are sold in the first two months of every year.

Backed by New Year's resolutions and buoyed with hopeful determination, thousands of people march into their local gyms, year after year, only to peter out a month or two later, feeding the grim statistics. A chronic short-term gym-goer myself, I've spent the past ten years as such a statistic.

But this year I decided I would defy the system:

Why should I even bother to join a gym on January 2, knowing full well that I'd stop going before spring was even officially declared? No, this year it was time to be strong. And I did hang tough for about two months--no gym!--before I finally caved in. . . .

And now here I sit, grimly signing the bottom of the membership application while avoiding the glittering endorphin eyes of my "Membership Counselor," who is probably biting back her desire to chirp out something very perky about the fact that I still have plenty of time to get ready for "bikini season," which is just (giggle/snort) ten weeks away. But as she seems to be managing to keep herself in check, I give her a smile to show her that I'm a reasonably good sport. I know my place on the roulette wheel of urban gym membership, and I'm smart enough to know that the house always wins.

I'm always impressed by the strides in techno-evolution that health clubs make in the nine months or so that my membership lies fallow and then finally lapses. There are always more TVs than I remembered, bigger and flashier machines, and, of course, my favorite proof of the passage of time: an ever more bewildering number of new exercise classes that have sprung up since the previous year.

My first day at the gym is traditionally spent in the stretching area, lying on a mat with a towel sportily wrapped around my neck. It's here that I read through the monthly exercise-class schedule that is always Xeroxed on brightly colored paper (ooh--next month, how about yellow?!). Squinting to read the eight-point type, I mouth to myself these strange and wondrous titles--BalletCore, Urban Rebounding Express, Lo2Go--and then I flip to the other side of the page and read the class descriptions, marveling at the creative use of grammar and diction--all those sassy adjectives! those happy verbs! and those extra-perky exclamation marks!!! I stretch my neck muscles by craning to see whether I can properly ID the classes currently under way in the three different exercise studios on the floor.

Studio 1 at the back corner has twenty-plus women on individual mini-trampolines waving hand weights above their heads: Urban Rebounding Express (the trampolines are a dead giveaway). Studio 2 is trickier; the purple yoga mats make this look simple, but then you recall how, now that yoga is for the masses, there are just so many disciplines to choose from--Hatha, Vinyasa, or Kundalini. This class turns out to be Power Flex Yoga, the pupu platter of yoga classes, allowing one to sample all the types at once, with a fifteen-minute abs-only section, to boot.

Next I work my back muscles by sitting up to check out Studio 3. But what I see makes me recoil and slam back down on my mat so fast that the woman on the lumbar ball next to me pauses, her arms only partly extended, her purple elasto-workout-band vaguely slack.

How could I have not remembered Studio 3? The one thing that never changes . . .

One of my problems with going to the gym--aside from the fact that I hate exercising, hate to sweat, hate how red my face gets while sweating, and hate always feeling like an impostor, even after blowing a month's salary at Niketown--is that I am truly scared of the "Women Who Spin."

Maybe "scared" isn't the right word, but it's something akin to that--some serious physiological reaction left over from the one time in my life when I really felt like I was going to die (this was before the shock paddles up front had become standard equipment)--and not in any graceful kind of a way, but in an exercise room, surrounded by a group of grunting, bike-seat-straddling women with thighs capable of splitting open an oil drum.

I still remember tasting the sweat pouring into my mouth from every single unclogged pore on my face, and my fervid prayers that the whole cliche of your life flashing before your eyes just before death would prove to be untrue--be...

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Albiana on March 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'd picked this book up on a whim after reading the highlights bullet-pointed on the back cover, though at first glance it seemed to be run-of-the-mill chick lit.

Glad I was so very wrong.

I haven't laughed this hard in a good long while. And never from a book. Page after page. My hand to heaven, I hereby admit was in tears with hysterics before I even got passed the prologue and intro!!

Scanning the cover, let me see, "a thirty-something mouths off about age angst, pregnancy pressure and dieting"...sounds like the usual chick-lit fodder, yes?

To continue, "Saying good-bye to going to bars, seeing bands and generally being cool" and "Dealing with the fact that just when you finally know what you want out of a husband, it's too late to exchange him".....this had me snickering in the aisle of the store, then furtively glancing to make sure no other shoppers we witnessing my obvious relish at having found a subversive kindred spirit to the "I'm 30-something and I'm not feeling like I have my s*&%t entirely together" group.

Yes, it is true, much like the author describes, I have only recently and very reluctantly retired the last of my 20s hold-out miniskirts.

And I'll cop to the fact that I alternate days using Oil of Olay and Clearasil in the ongoing war of keeping my face in order.

Oh, and that bit about being absolutely certain that my shoes, hair products and handbag all add at least 15 lbs onto my weight when venturing onto the scale in the doctors office...true without a doubt!!

I found this book charming, disarming and alarming in the most hilarious way. Enjoyed it so much, I'm buying copies for all my 30-something gal pals and my sister, who is just entering into her 30s now. I'd like her to have the benefit of a funny reality check so she has a firm grasp of what's in store.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Anthony on January 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
I picked this up on the table at the bookstore and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. Lee writes with such honesty and humor about things that my friends and I have all dealt with--husbands, tricky marriages, career, mothers, etc. I laughed out loud on every page. This is not standard chick lit stuff. Lee writes with a humanity and wit you just don't see very often today. Buy it and buy it for your friends!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By berg9201 on February 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read Jenny Lee's first book. This is pretty much a sequel. She continues to write with much humor and honesty. But I did not laugh as much as I did when I read her first book. Overall, if you enjoyed her writing style, then you will also enjoy this book.
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