Fat Girl: A True Story by Judith Moore
Fat Girl is a memoir, the story of Judith Moore’s life as an overweight child, teen and adult. I admit, I was a little unsure what I was getting into with this one—the cover and reviews all repeat the same type of verbiage: “searingly honest,” “breathtakingly frank,” “not for the faint of heart,” “unflinching,” “stark.” I think you get the drift.
And, indeed, this book does pack an emotional punch, though Moore warns the reader in her introduction of what is to come. She starts out with the history of her parents, then their courtship, building to her birth to her father, the spoiled child of a well-to-do family, and her mother, who is poor but very pretty…and very mentally unstable.
Her story continues—the divorce of her parents while she is very young, a father who abandons her, an abusive mother who resents her because she views Moore as holding her back from being the famous singer she aspires to be. Moore is shifted from parent to grandparent to uncle, and as her capacity to endure her loveless life grows, so does her weight.
Moore speaks of her life with an almost odd detachment and a sense of candor that is often merciless. I admit that I was drawn to this book because, well, I am fat. And there were parts of the book that resonated with me—descriptions of situations that only those who have been fat could understand. The one that hit home the most is when she describes dressing up for a special event and thinking she looked pretty, then later seeing photos of the event and realizing she just looked fat…“It may come as a surprise to you—or maybe it won’t—but I often do not realize I am fat, or how fat I am…So when I see photographs…I am shocked by the difference between how I believed I looked and how I did look.” I, too, have had that same shocked feeling.
Based on events mentioned in the book, I assume Moore would be 60+ now, which means she grew up during the 40s, 50s and 60s, before obesity was the epidemic it is now. While many thin people probably still feel disdain or pity for fat people, sadly, it is less of a shock today to see someone who is obese. I don’t know that it makes a difference, but I thought it was worth noting.
Is this book a tough read? Definitely. Do I think this book is worth reading? Definitely. I don’t know many people who haven’t, at some time, struggled with their weight or food and who wouldn’t relate to some passage in this book. However, I wish Moore had gone a step further. She rushes the end, taking the whole book to cover her life to about 12-years-old then, in the last chapter, covering high school, college and her adulthood. Of course, throughout the book, I, probably like most readers, keeps thinking “her weight is because she was unloved, has no self-worth, was abused.” But, at the end Moore states lack of love is not why she is fat…”Would love have done me any good? Love, I think, would not have made me thin. Plus, by the time I thought of love as an answer, it was too late for love. I was too fat for love.” Maybe love would not have made her thin, but maybe the question is…would it have kept her from becoming fat?
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