A sociologist's sympathetic exploration of the fat woman's world--the intersection of social pressures, psychological confusion, and political discrimination. It's the paradox of inner attitudes that Millman discloses most fully: the compulsive eater feels she has lost control of her eating and her life, yet often uses her eating to punish or otherwise control others; she feels desexualized by her weight, yet is somehow convinced that the poundage masks an excessive or ""degraded"" sexuality. One woman vividly recalls her teenage years with a father who frequently criticized her ""unattractiveness"" yet gave evidence of attraction to her. A vicious cycle ensues in the social sphere: the more fat women are viewed as antisocial freaks--""greedy, secretive, isolated, or self-absorbed""--the more they seek the lonely comfort of isolation. Their chief failing, as far as society is concerned, is deviance from the norm in an obvious way, which renders all their traits suspect. Politically, Millman takes up the feminist position that fat women are discriminated against more than fat men, because of a more rigid standard of physical attractiveness. Interestingly enough, she also sees anti-fattie campaigns (by Blue Cross, for example) as discriminatory against the poor, who often lack the time and money to enjoy well-balanced diets. There are some omissions: the exact definition of ""fat"" is never proffered (some of the numbers quoted do not seem particularly excessive). Then, too, there is little attempt to come to grips with the idea that 40 percent of all American adults are ""at least 20 percent above their 'ideal' weight""--which should have an impact on social attitudes. Still, a thoughtful articulation of some major issues.