‘Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society That Loves Thin’
By Monica Parker
Terri Schlichenmeyer | 7/18/2014, midnight
Up and down. Up and down.
When your children were infants, you did it for them all night. You do it now with the remote, clicking through when you’re looking for something good on TV. You’re up and down while cleaning, working, exercising, and weighing yourself—and on that note, if the latest diet doesn’t work, maybe the next one will.
Or, maybe, as you’ll see in the new book “Getting Waisted” by Monica Parker, (c.2014, HCI, $15.95 / $19.95 Canada, 278 pages) it’s time to break this yo-yo string.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Monica Parker was six-and-a-half pounds at birth but an hour later, “I weighed 62 pounds.” That’s a slight exaggeration, she admits, but the point is that, for as far back as she remembers, Parker was overweight.
Her mother, whom Parker calls Queen Elizabeth (resemblance in attitude only), was a Viennese refugee from Hitler’s regime who’d been forced to leave her two eldest children behind during the war. The family was reunited when Parker was a small child, but the damage had already been done: she grew up lonely, picked-on, self-conscious, and believing that her mother barely noticed her. Subconsciously thinking that being larger would mean being seen, Parker ate.
She was chubby when the family—which now included Parker’s estranged father—immigrated to Toronto. She was chunky as a teen when she learned that her size gave her “power"—but not enough to keep her from being raped. She tried to flirt, tried to date, hoped to find a boyfriend, and ended up being little more than a sidekick to her two svelte roommates as a young adult.
Men didn’t like Parker’s body. She didn’t like it, either.
Parker tried every diet that sounded workable. She starved herself, then binged; rewarded and punished herself; and almost ruined the relationship she always wanted. And then, in one of those “only-in-Hollywood” moments, Hollywood called and Parker was offered a job she dreamed of. It meant moving to Beverly Hills, though, an atmosphere that didn’t exactly nurture Parker’s body image…
“Getting Waisted” is a nice surprise. It’s funny in the right places, sad where sad belongs, and supportive in a sisterhood kind of way. However, there’s a big but…
In this memoir, Parker takes us through her personal ups and downs—a lot. Reminiscent of yo-yo dieting, we read about highs and lows that happen repeatedly, details that start to seem like more of the same. I didn’t mind that at first—or fourth, or fifth—but I quickly lost my appetite for it. It just made the book feel padded.
But then—literally on the penultimate page—we get the nugget we’ve waited for, the raison d’être, the thing every woman needs to know. I wish it had come sooner, but angels sang when I read it and that’s good enough for me.
Watch for copious amounts of justified, and charming name-dropping when you read this book, and if you’re a mirror-avoiding, diet-trying woman who hates her thighs-arms-stomach-chin, you should. For you, “Getting Waisted” is one to pick up.