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Plus Size Women RULE! . . . Except This One

2003-10-06 - 8:22 a.m.

It's hard for people to figure out what they want to do with their lives. particularly if they're interested in more than one field. On the one hand, I think that it's perfectly acceptable, if not expected, to pursue more than one field in one's lifetime. However, at the same time, it's nice to figure out what is, indeed, the somewhat mystical One Thing that you should be concentrating on.

Most people say things like "What would you do if you were filthy rich and didn't have to do anything?" I don't like that question, because my response is "I'd do whatever I wanted at any given moment!" So here's an alternate question that I think might work better: "What is the thing that makes you angriest when it is done badly?" I know that's a very awkward wording, so let's put it in terms of examples. If you see a movie, and it's bad, and you bitch with friends at dinner and then deal with it, then you don't need to be making movies. However, if you see a bad movie and you call a friend to tell them how horrible it was, if you consider writing the director to ask him just what in the hizell he was thinking, if you look at every good review of that movie and consider wiping your ass with the paper you read it on, then you, my friend, should be making movies. If you look at an ugly armoire and want to take an ax to it, then you should be a carpenter. If you hear about a malpractice case and have to stop yourself from going into the hospital with a gun, and it's in the next state, a medical profession is for you. Not only will you be involved with something you're passionate about, but you will obviously have a commitment to making sure your work is the best it can be. It doesn't matter if people disagree with your point of view or the final results of your work, as long as you are holding yourself to the highest standard possible for your given field as you see it.

I bring this up because I think I may have figured out that my truest passion might be the written word, as opposed to the performed word, because I encountered a book that inspired such rage in me that, while my deep moral imperative against book burning remained firmly in place, I realized that this did not cover "ripping," "shredding," or "stabbing." However, I intend to keep this book intact, as a reminder of everything that I don't want to be associated with, as a symbol of all that is lazy and self-centered in art.

That book is Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, and it was such a profane exercise in narcissistic drivel that it made Mauren's graduation speech look like "I Had a Dream."

I was directed to this book as a result of Jemima J Hate Week on Pound ( Wendola, creator of Pound, despises this book. Apparently, the book concerns one Jemima J, who at 5'7" and 217 pounds is THE FATTEST WOMAN IN HISTORY, EVER!!! Anyways, Jemima can't even move ten feet without eating bacon, and then one day she realizes that if she lost all the weight, she'd be happy. So she puts down the bacon and starts working out and loses all the weight and is finally skinny and lives happily ever after, the end.

Because that always works. It certainly worked for me when I was eating about 1000 calories a day (did I mention I was 6'1" and a teenage boy?) and working out an hour and a half a day. I was happy as a clam, in that I was at the bottom of a dark ocean and covered in lobster shit. And it certainly worked for my friend who got the stomach banding/gastric bypass surgery, thus being only allowed to absorb a fraction of the calories in her food, which was a fraction of what she was eating before. It wasn't like she became addicted to Xanax and had to be institutionalized or anything.


So there is every reason in the world to hate this book, Jemima J. When I went to read the angry reviews on, I found that a number of those who hated the book recommended Good in Bed. So I went to the bookstore on my lunch hour and checked it out.

In the first two pages, the main character, Cannie, discovers that her boyfriend, with whom she is "on a break," has written an article in a women's magazine about "Loving a Larger Woman" in which he applauds himself for accepting her and learning to love her "amplitude" and how it frustrated him that her inability to cope with the fact that she was "Lewinsky-esque" led her to break up with him.

If that's not a catchy beginning, I don't know what is. So I bought the book and took it home.

Let me tell you, I couldn't put it down. But the reasons for this inability to drop the book changed. First, it was interest. Then, it was suspicion as to where the book was going. Then, it was in a desperate attempt to find a point where the book turned around and became redeemable. Then, it was in a hatred-fueled drive to finish the book just to make sure it was indeed as repugnant as I imagined. And. It. Was.

See, it wasn't just that the book was bad, although we'll get to just how bad it was in a second. It really got to me because this was about a fat woman, and as a proud Fat Bitch I was ready to read a positive, interesting story about one of our own, who so often are treated as little more than "The Best Friend Who NEVER Gets Laid" in mainstream media.

I, of course, prefer to play the role of "The Best Friend Who Gets Laid More Than You Do," except in the company of Shkbob, who is my size and has had WAAAY more sex than anyone I know. Well, I'd still PREFER to play it, it's just that it ain't never gonna happen.

I did not, however, get a positive, interesting story. What I got was a fairy tale, and while I usually love fairy tales, I hated this one. Cinderella, in this case, is Cannie, and like Cinderella she has toiled, oh how she has toiled. Okay, I know you're not going to be able to handle the horror of her situation, but I eed to relate it. Her parents . . . are divorced. Her father . . . never loved her. Or, he did, but then he was awful to her and said genuinely hurtful things. Then, he, oh god I don't know if I can even write this, he ONLY PAID FOR PART OF HER COLLEGE. And he made her go to Princeton! Princeton! She wanted to go to Smith, people, to Smith, and that rat bastard made her go to Princeton and then stopped paying! Stopped! She had to get, like, a work study job in the CAFETERIA! And the skinny blonde Princeton girls TOTALLY MADE FUN OF HER!

And to make matters worse, after years of supporting her family, Cannie's mom finds love WITH ANOTHER WOMAN. And ewwww, like, this woman is TOTALLY GROSS. She smokes and has a big loom and hates men and has cats named Gertrude and Alice, because, you know, all lesbians are TOTALLY LIKE THAT. And, like, everyone has always made fun of Cannie for being fat and even her friends who are always supportive don't understand because her father was mean and told her she was ugly and after he left she had to clean the pool ALL BY HERSELF because they couldn't afford to have anyone clean it, and her mom is totally a lesbian now, you guys, and she has a good paying job and excellent prospects but, like, whatever because she's fat and her daddy and her boyfriend think she's fat and her mom is a D-Y-K-E and everything su-ucks!

But wait. There's hope! Because, as always happens all the time, she meets a movie star, and the movie star becomes her best friend, and gets her screenplay sold and introduces her to all these fabulous celebrities who totally love her, and then this superstar best friend even pays to have her apartment redecorated for the baby!

Oh my god, I totally forgot to mention the baby! Because as soon as her boyfriend writes this patronizing, unctuous article, Cannie realizes she lurrrvs him and must have him back, so she sleeps with him after his dad's funeral, and of course she's so caught up in the moment that she forgets to use protection, and then she has a baby, and even though she's pro-choice she realizes that this baby . . . this baby . . . will be the thing that redeems her, that makes her a better person, that teaches her loving and forgiveness and completion and what it really means to be an adult and a woman, and will never make her feel tied down or harried, because god knows THAT REALLY WORKED FOR YOUR DAD YOU STUPID, SELF CENTERED, UNGRATEFUL, NARCISSISTIC, HOMOPHOBIC, ELITIST LITTLE

Sorry, where was I?

Oh, and the boyfriend of course becomes a deadbeat dad, and worse his girlfriend pushes her! Pushes her! It's not like Cannie insulted her or anything or made her feel stupid or anything, except for when she called her stupid. And then Cannie almost loses the baby, but it is in that moment that her Diet Doctor finally admits that not only is he in love with her, but he loves her just the way she is. And then Cannie gets her boyfriend's job and she and the doctor and her baby and her dog all live in the pretty new apartment and call the pretty actress and accept the reality of the lesbian stepmother but still insult her to her face even if it makes her mommy cry, and Cannie is a pretty pony princess forever and ever and ever GOD I HAVE NEVER HATED A BOOK SO MUCH IN MY LIFE!!!

That's the best way I can sum up this book. The sort veriosn: a self-loathing narcissist never once takes a moment to put her own problems in perspective, or to truly show her gratitude toward her loved ones for caring for her, and still gets everything handed to her on a silver platter.

I read an interview with the author in the back of the book, and she said that she had imagined Cannie as herself (SHOCKER!) and imagined the plot as what would happen if everything that had gone wrong in her life had gone right. I think that's the worst reasoning behind a book ever. There are entire novels about how bad an idea that is. It reduces everyone to cartoons and shows just how obnoxious someone who always gets their way can be.

And yet the book has been praised, almost universally. Jennifer Weiner has a husband and a baby and a deal to turn this novel into a series on HBO. She managed to get everything she wanted.

I could be depressed about this, and I am a little, but I am also filled with a desire to write something better. I want to write about people who don't get everything handed to them and deal with it, and who have faced far worse than Cannie and who complain nowhere near as much, about fat women who kick ass and tell the fairy godmother that she's meeting friends for drinks and can't be bothered to take the easy path. Those are the people I know and love. Those are characters I want to read about. I want to read about the fat woman who has affairs and then gets a slap on her mellonsmellonous rump (name that source!). I don't want to read or write about whining brats, in any size, unless they get up off their ass and change their insides.

Their outsides can remain as they are.

Until I write the stories, go see Muriel's Wedding or Real Women Have Curves. And if you see someone picking up Good in Bed in a bookstore, tell them you'll buy them a cookie if they put the book down and never pick it up again. It will be a far more liberating act for people of any size anywhere.

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