Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or Why Pi e is Not The Answer Paperback – May 6 2008
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"Jen Lancaster is like David Sedaris with pearls and a super-cute handbag."
-Jennifer Coburn, author
About the Author
Jen Lancaster is the author of Bitter is the New Black. She has lived in Chicago for ten years with her husband and pets, and has yet to get the hang of the subway or returning library books in a timely manner. Visit www.jennsylvania.com
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Top Customer Reviews
I just couldn't wait for this book to come out and was so sad when I finished it. Losing weight is a struggle - no doubt about it, but when you are bombarded with tales of perfection and women changing their lives by cutting out sugar and gluten...you have to think that there is only two potential realities "fat and happy" or "thin and angry". I am so glad Jen found the happy place where it is just - GOOD.
PS Cutting out booze indefinately is no life.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In Jen's most recent memoir, "Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer" (love those ridiculously long titles!), Jen tackles her biggest challenge yet: her weight. Screw unemployment and psychotic Chicago neighbors: Nothing is scarier for a woman then stepping on the bathroom scale. In Jen's case, she wasn't happy with the numbers she saw on that scale, so she decided to do something about it. Well, actually, she sold a book proposal about trying to lose weight, so she kind of HAD to do something about it. But that's not the point. Jen never used to be the type of woman who would go to the gym every day (or at all). However, she decided to face her fears and give her physical well-being the same kind of attention she devoted to other important aspects of her life: her husband, her pets, her drinking, her shoe fetish, etc.
"Such a Pretty Fat" is a very honest look at what it took for Jen to get herself in shape. Nobody said it was going to be easy. She stumbled plenty of times along the way and gave nearly every diet plan a try, from Atkins to crash dieting to Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers. In the end, Jen finally realized that most diets are B.S. The key to losing weight and being healthy is to make responsible choices and (duh!) exercise. And that's exactly what Jen did.
I think "Such a Pretty Fat" is Jen's best book to date. (My only complaint is that certain chapters gave me monstrous cravings for things like ribs, Twinkies, and Olive Garden bread sticks...damn you, Jen!) Not only is the book chock full of Jen's snarky humor (and the footnotes...I LOVE the footnotes!), but it's also an inspiring true story about a plus-size woman's determination to lose weight. I really admire Jen for her honesty, her dedication, and her results. In addition to losing a lot of weight, she became a fitter person and felt much better about herself, which is really what being healthy is all about.
Before choosing a book without a personal recommendation, I always look at the negative reviews. Sometimes, they actually make me want to buy the book, but in this case, they (along with the titles of her other books) were almost enough to make me say no. If I weren't nearly desperate for reading material, I'd never have bought the book. I learned that it disparages Weight Watchers (which more-or-less saved my life), and that the author is too self-centered to even be funny.
Well, all I can say to those who wrote negative reviews is "Get a sense of humor!" This book is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Yes, Jen is self centered -- about as self centered as most of us -- but more honest about it (and a lot funnier.)
Jen loves shoe-shopping, fashion, and (if I get the context right) overpriced purses. I'm a fashion retard, and hate shopping, especially for shoes (and almost as much for purses.) In the first chapter, she disparages the town I live in, which I actually like (for the most part.) She reviles the soccer moms with minivans, and I do own a minivan (although I try very hard never to actually drive the monstrosity), and my son does play soccer.
So why, when I'm reading this book, do I feel like it's me talking? My husband picked it up and read a few paragraphs from the middle. He says, "Tell me the truth. You're secretly writing books now under the pen name Jen Lancaster, aren't you?"
Jen speaks her mind (saying what plenty of women wish they had the guts to say), and she's freakin' funny. I'm not so sure about the title, though. Sometimes, I'm pretty sure pie IS the answer...
The author isn't very compassionate towards her fellow human beings. A lot of times during reading, I would have to take a break because her view of the world is so short-sighted. It's almost like her world is full of 2-D people whose only feelings are the obvious ones. It's all like a cartoon. It feels like everyone in the world is just there to be judged or bring her pleasure.
Actually, come to think of it, I think she's a good example of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She is "unwilling or unable to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others". An example of this would be towards the end of the book when she met a homeless woman who was suffering from the effects of long term drug addiction (she was shivering in the heat). The woman came over to her and complimented her on her towel. It was a shabby one, but I think the woman thought it might keep her warm. Jen got angry at the sickly woman for approaching her, also because she might have been late to swim laps. Lancaster interrogated the woman, not because she wanted answers, but to shame the lady when she said "Number one, I'm not going to give you dime so you can continue slowly killing yourself, and number two, even I were to take pity on you--which I'm not--I'm wearing a bathing suit and running shorts. Where exactly do you think I'd be storing money for Junkies fund? In the coin purse up my ass?". She leaves the woman stammering, unable to answer.
If you're thinking about buying this one, read about NPD so you know what you're in for. "Rarely acknowledges mistakes and/or imperfections", she mentions in the title that she's a narcissist, but it goes far beyond that.
As for the book in general, only a third of it can really be considered about weight loss. Most of it are just her memories and conversations with people within the same time frame (i.e: How she hired maid service, talking about watching lots of reality tv shows). I suggest skimming through those parts, because it gets tedious. Also, the only person mentioned in the book I really liked was her trainer Barbie. Barbie was like breath of fresh, non-snarky, air. It's a shame she wasn't mentioned more often. Everyone else just had neutral attitudes, despite Jen's constant fault-finding. It seems like Jen is the only toxic person in Jen's life, which is good for her I guess. Although, probably not so good for those around her. All in all, there are some points of humor and she tries to take the edge off of her sometimes cruel statements by turning them into jokes (i.e: Miss Melanoma), but the book is just energy draining. There are better weight-loss memoirs out there, without the nasty aftertaste.
What I love about Lancaster's work is that she knows when to laugh at herself, and at others' foolishness, without going over the top. For example, there's brilliant scene in Such a Pretty Fat where she goes to Jenny Craig and then Weight Watchers, where the meeting participants discuss of the evils of food in the work place. Birthday cake is always, always mentioned, and Jen harps on that theme mercilessly.
In all, I thought the authors' message was a positive one for people struggling with their weight (though I'm not one of them). The message that some weight loss programs endorse is that food is evil; but Lancaster challenges that theory outright, saying that food is not, in fact, the enemy; food is in fact good for you if you eat right. Jen's weight loss resulted as a result of wanting to feel and look good, not because of outside pressures, which I also thought was an important message.