Fat Girl

One of the really obscure sections in my personal library is books by and about fat people.
I'm not talking about diet and exercise books - these take up several shelves, and I am quite an expert there. No, I am talking about books that address directly the state of being fat - a surprisingly small sub-genre, when you consider the shape of most people in the English-speaking world.
I have just finished the late Judith Moore's harrowing little memoir Fat Girl, and think it is one of the best accounts of being fat that I have ever read.
Moore recounts a lonely and troubled childhood with a narcissistic mother and cruel grandmother, kept from contact with her famously overweight father. Moore is fat almost from birth, and becomes an object of hatred and contempt, a constant reminder to her mother of her hated father. She describes with great simplicity the bullying and rejection she experienced at the hands of other children.
The book describes a life as an outsider, convinced of her own ugliness, and divorced from any real sexuality or sensuality, feeling trapped in a body she hates. With a lesser writer this book could have been horribly self-indulgent, but Moore's measured prose, her wariness of being over-dramatic, renders it a sensitive, though painful, testament to anger and pain.
I loved the sections where she describes the time she spent with her gay Uncle Carl, the only adult who ever really showed the chubby child any kindness, and allowed her to be herself. Moore describes how at ease she managed to feel in the company of another human being who was himself an obvious outsider, and allowed her the dignity of being herself in a bewildering world where others scorned and despised her.
It's a beautifully written book, and truly compuslively readable. Some reviewers described it as angry, but for me the overhelming tone is one of sadness.


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