By Randy Susan Meyers
Read by Robin Eller and Amanda Ronconi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (May 2019)
Runtime: 9 hours and 52 minutes
In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.
Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them.
Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother’s knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.
The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary.
The women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability…until they decide to take matters into their own hands.
This book lands on a lot of common ground for me. I fear there are very few women alive in this, and many other countries, for who it would not touch a nerve. I have struggled with weight most of my life (possibly since was about 7), and there have been times I would have done anything to lose it. Even today, my body size is one of the top five things that define me. That’s probably not going to change.
This novel explores many of the issues around weight: How we learn to hate our bodies and how the people who are supposed to love and support us undermine our self-confidence and are cruel in their love. It talks about the family dynamics for women in many cultures. Alice, a mixed-race woman has a white mom who pushes her to be a strong black-woman who should be comfortable in her large body, but whose husband like skinny women. Daphne’s husband, a doctor, loves her however she is but her mother’s insensitivity, her “cruel to be kind-“ness is appalling.
But, no matter the circumstances of the characters, they hate their bodies, they don’t even love the food they eat, and for the women in this book, they are . I can tell you how closely their relationships with food were like mine. If there had been a program like this I would have gone. I don’t think I would have stayed but one never knows. The weight-loss place was a hugely dangerous place staffed by nasty characters.
I was deeply engaged with the story and while there were a few moments I thought hard to believe, they were minor in the way the book rang true. I found the parallel of weight and race interesting: something we choose versus something we cannot help; although in many cases genetics are involved in metabolism.
Narration was fine, sometimes I thought there was too much acting, and sometimes dropping the end of words (“parkin” instead of “parking”). But, the narrator had a pleasant voice.
If you have ever struggled with weight and/or the expectations around body image, this could be for you. It’s great for the beach! No solutions are offered, but it is uplifting.
A quick note: It’s summer and my posts will be erratic as I balance life, travel, the beach and life.