WAKE UP, I'M FAT! by Camryn Manheim


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A stand-up story of being fat in a thin-is-in culture from the Emmy Award—winning actress who plays a spirited lawyer on ABC’s The Practice. Born in Peoria as Debra (“a name with no character, no euphony, no style”), the author was thin until her family moved to Southern California. There, where thin really mattered, she grew tall (5—10”) and wide; with no place for her in the usual high school cliques (jock, cheerleader, even the nerds), she smoked marijuana and faked acid trips with the druggies. Summer jobs as a “wench” at the local Renaissance Faires, where “women like me were worshipped” bolstered her self-confidence. The University of California at Santa Cruz introduced her to radical feminist politics, and graduate study at New York University’s theater school to public humiliation: one teacher persisted in interrogating her in class regarding “what [she was] going to do about [her] body.” She challenged him and others like him, but faced by rejection from agents, producers, and even (she believed) by her parents because of her weight, she learned to hate herself. In search of her lost self-confidence, she explored the world of fat fanciers via personal ads and found both a supportive community and a frightening underworld of S/M, where women let themselves be force-fed into gaining hundreds of pounds. Meanwhile, her acting resumÇ continued to accumulate credits, including a role in the film Wellness and a one-woman show, Wake Up, I’m Fat, that eventually led to both her TV role and this book. She credits her family’s history of political activism with her current activism on behalf of fat women. Rosie O’Donnell wrote the foreword. Amusing, gossipy, frank, but also replete with stories of the psychic nicks and scrapes that fat people face every day as a result of “society’s contempt for people like me.” (15 b&w photos) ($100,000 ad/promo; TV/radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: May 19th, 1999
ISBN: 0-7679-0362-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999


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