Not another how-to guide to weight loss, but a smart, sassy, offbeat, funny-sad account of what the author discovered about herself when she went from being a very fat woman to a normal-sized one.
Kuffel, a New York literary agent with some poetry and short-story credits in small magazines, had been a compulsive eater all her life, tipping the scale at 350 pounds when she began her journey away from obesity. At 42, she finally realized that her addiction to food was essentially the same as a close friend’s alcoholism. Entering an unnamed 12-step program that slimmed her down, Kuffel found herself propelled into a world she had long observed but never experienced. As a grossly fat teenager, she’d never flirted with boys or dated; an obese woman had no chance of lovers, a husband, or children. For those who have never been there, Kuffel details the stresses and challenges of living encased in pounds of fat, making painfully clear the harm that years of obesity inflicted on her body. Her exodus from what she terms “The Planet of Fat” to the strange, new “Planet of Girls” and, later, “The Planet of Women” is told with dark humor, as is her exploration of “The Planet of Men.” She becomes more visible as she takes up less space, Kuffel discovers, and like a teenager, she becomes obsessed with her changing body and with clothing. While these obsessions at times verge on the tedious, her accounts of middle-aged, online dating have the ring of sad truth. Thinness, she learns, is no guarantee of enduring love, and being thin means you can’t blame your failures on fatness. The new Kuffel is the same intelligent, funny, and nice person she was before, but now she has expectations, options, and a sense of entitlement.
Weight-loss programs suggest that happiness comes when fat goes, but Kuffel’s clear-eyed account reveals a far more complicated truth.