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The Fat Girl's Guide to Life Paperback – Bargain Price, February 10, 2005

66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This send-up of the thin-is-in mentality is funny enough to make even diehard dieters consider replacing their baby carrots with Krispy Kremes. Shanker, one of Us Weekly's Fashion Police commentators and a self-proclaimed fat girl, estimates she's spent 16 years trying to lose weight: "I've met with seven weight loss specialists, worked with three nutritionists and three personal trainers, tried a dozen weight loss programs, taken thousands of pills, joined six gyms, read thirty-one books and spent enough money on weight loss to buy myself an Ivy League degree." Out of this context, Shanker takes on the media, corporate America and even the medical establishment, arguing with their belief that it's impossible to be both fit and fat. "Let's take the focus off 'fat' and put it on health," she lectures. "Let's take the focus off 'skinny' and put it on good common sense. Let's take the focus off body image and put it on education, women's rights, human rights, the economy, baseball cards, anything." Although Shanker's opinions on full-figured fashion and feminist philosophy are entertaining, she's at her best writing about her stint at Duke Diet and Fitness Center, one of the country's oldest and most successful weight management centers. As her optimism about the hardcore Duke University Medical School program flags, her diary of adventures becomes increasingly irreverent, refreshing and human. Anyone who has ever tried to lose a pound will gain confidence and a sense of humor from Shanker's story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"This bold, brainy book debunks obesity myths, examines society's prejudices and tells heavy gals they can be fat, fit and fabulous!" (Us Weekly )

"This frank and funny look at living large in America will resonate with any woman who has obsessed over her body image." (Chicago Sun-Times )

"Jagged little pills of body-image wisdom." (Allure )

"…funny enough to make even diehard dieters consider replacing their baby carrots with Krispy Kremes." (Publishers Weekly )

“The Fat Girl's Guide to Life is chicken soup for the big girl's soul.” (Jennifer Weiner )

“Funny, feminist, fat, friendly, and fierce. It’s food, it’s fulfilling.” (Eve Ensler )

“Put on your seatbelt and enjoy the fun-filled, wacky ride!” (Emme )

“Shanker’s humor hits its mark.” (Bust magazine )

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (March 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582345538
  • ASIN: B001G8WKWQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,546,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Erica on April 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to see this book out, and some great points were made, but Ms. Shanker is clearly deeply conflicted. She swings wildly from saying that dieting is good, to saying that she still diets; from saying that she's always going to be fat, to saying that she reserves the right to change her mind and try yet again to lose weight; from saying that fat women are beautiful to saying that they are "garbage" compared to supermodels. This woman wears control top panty hose every day. She says that fat women shouldn't expect to get hunky guys, but should instead go for unstylish, short, and/or bald men. Most of what she had to say was good, but the bad stuff she had to say was really, seriously messed up. The attitude was "I'm fat, that sucks, I'll have to bear it." It should have been "I'm fat, and that's hard, but I now embrace and love it."
As a big girl battling bulmia, the duplicity of this book actually "triggered" my disordered thinking more than any fashion magazine, which says a lot considering that fashion magazines certainly do so.
Wendy is on the right track, but she wrote this book too early in her recovery from her deep self hatred. If she'd given herself another year or two, she could have come out with a much less confused, ambiguous book, and her wit, intelligence and beauty would have produced a fantastic piece of literature. This isn't it. I hope she'll give it another shot when she can say in all honesty that she fully ascribes to the concept that Fat women are as beautiful as supermodels in a different way, Fat women are sexy, Fat women deserve good AND hunky lovers, Fat women can be fit, Fat women aren't slovenly, and they don't have to confine the bounty of their bodies with foundation undergarments.
Try again Wendy. I'm rooting for you.
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By S. Daniels on September 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For a while now, I have been searching for a book that takes on body image and the anti-fat culture in a cool, clever and inspirational way. I thought I had finally found such a thing in Wendy Shanker's Fat Girl's Guide to life - it's funny, sassy, intelligent - the works. However, there are several reasons why I was very disappointed with it and will never recommend it to anyone. First of all, I have a big problem with her statement in the book that all fat people are compulsive overeaters. There is not a single piece of evidence in support of this notion (despite considerable digging by anti-fat scientists), but it is presented here as an obvious truth. It is simply a prejudiced assumption and I was sad to read it in a book that is meant to empower fat girls. Secondly, it seems to me that Shanker has not at all resolved her personal issues with food and weight. It is thought- provoking and enlightening to follow and identify with her continuing struggles, but she doesn't leave the reader with much hope that these issues really can be worked out (they can, by the way). Furthermore, she seems to confuse food issues with weight issues a lot and vice versa. Eating a healthy diet does not mean that one is necessarily on the way to weight loss. Nor does ridding oneself of bad habits, like eating too much sugar, have to be fueled by a desire to lose weight. Improving health does not automatically imply weight loss. There needs to be a clear distinction between the two and I would have liked to see an understanding of this in the book. Finally, Shanker asserts on more than one occasion - in bold print, no less - that NO ONE wants to be fat. Now, while this may or may not be true (I very much doubt that it has ever been researched...Read more ›
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By S. Calhoun on April 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Despite the title, virtually every woman would benefit from reading this book since very few are immune to distorted body images or have never dieted before. In THE FAT GIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE Wendy Shanker superbly exposes the brutal truths of the revolving-door diet industry and shrinking sizes of the fashion industry. She intelligently writes with compassion since she has suffered most of her adult life from being overweight and spent a substantial amount of money on diet and exercise in an effort to slim to society's ideal size. Shanker has since made peace with her body and is adamant to let other women know that they're not alone in their battle for the perfect body. She dispenses practical diet and exercise advice that every woman can benefit.
While reading I was continually surprised at how Shanker manages to curtail popular ideologies including avoiding the ineffective diet regimes of Weight Watchers along with the commonplace practice of counting calories. Most surprising though was her unsatisfactory experiences of her month-long stay at the highly esteemed Duke Diet & Fitness Center. I have heard much about Duke's reputation but Shanker paints a very different picture of Duke being slow to adopt to new exercise programs and having futile support systems. Her tidbit of frequently seeing a pizza delivery van outside the center's hotel made me chuckle.
Throughout her book Shanker sidesteps the stereotype of an overweight person: she's healthy, beautiful, socially active, has a successful career, and is intelligent. She is also feisty and her personality shines through in her book. THE FAT GIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE is at the same time serious and insightful, funny and original. Highly recommended.
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