WAISTED by Randy Susan Meyers


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How far will a woman go to lose weight? Acrobat Films intends to find out by hosting an extreme weight-loss program, but they may have chosen the wrong women for their documentary.

Alice signed up for Acrobat Production’s second documentary after ruining her husband Clancy’s awards night. His film, De Facto, lost to Acrobat’s debut: Waisted, the first in a planned trilogy examining women and weight. Worse, Alice’s sheer fatness embarrassed him. When she married Clancy, Alice was thin—thin from heartbreak over her last relationship and then with joy over her newfound love for Clancy. Seven years and countless bags of M&Ms later, she can barely squeeze into a size 18. Desperate and furious with Clancy’s disapproval, Alice is ready to defect to his enemy’s camp. There, at the posh Privation mansion, she joins six other women, including Daphne, a talented makeup artist who ended up at Privation despite her husband’s delight in her every curve. Acrobat’s methods, however, quickly devolve from extreme to degrading. Naked weigh-ins, Machiavellian trainers, Byzantine exercise equipment, starvation rations, and speed (masquerading as not-so-mysterious “vitamins”) quickly melt off the pounds but also break down the women’s psyches. That is, until Alice, Daphne, and their roommate, Hania, decide to fight back. The consequences of Acrobat’s unmasking, however, remain frustratingly unclear. Meyers (The Widow of Wall Street, 2017, etc.) spins a compelling tale, raising critical questions about familial, social, and cultural messages about body image; each woman at Privation, fat-shamed on a daily basis, has lost her sense of self. Yet Meyers’ portraits are also riddled with every stereotype of the overweight American woman, traumatized by well-meaning but bitterly critical mothers and judgmental husbands, stuffing down her emotions with handfuls of sugar and butter. Although Alice, Daphne, Hania, and the other women rebel against Acrobat’s evil plan, their lives post-Privation remain food- and body-size obsessed.

A Cinderella tale for fat-shamed women that unfortunately misses the mark.

Pub Date: May 21st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5011-3138-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2019


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