Published by Atria Books on May 21, 2019
Source: the publisher
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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.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers is a fascinating read, as it takes a group of women and forces them to confront how badly they want to lose weight. Exactly how far they are willing to go. Seven women meet at what they think is a secluded resort in Vermont for a weight loss retreat, only to find that their month away is more like boot camp on steroids. When they arrive, their personal belongings and phones are taken away and they are berated for their sizes and forced to lose weight competitively, in ways that are dangerous and humiliating. To make things even worse, they are all filmed while they are exercising and eating and even during their daily weigh-ins.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I started this book, but I will honestly say that stories that feature people with food/body image/weight concerns interest me. During the last entire year of my Dad’s life, he was unable to eat any food at all; ironically, before he lost the ability to eat, he incredible shame about enjoying food because he thought he was too fat. He was’t even overweight, so this is where part of my fascination with body image and weight concerns and eating in general comes from.
Alice and Daphne are the two women (out of seven) that are given their own POV’s in this story. Both have unhealthy perspectives of their weight and their body image as far as I am concerned. They view themselves in an overall unhealthy way and I feel like that is something that has been passed down from their upbringing, as their family members make both direct and indirect comments about their weight and appearance in the story. Even though the weight did come off, it was hard to see both of these women go to such extremes to lose the pounds; they experienced secrecy and shame and they put their body under so much stress. And then once they arrived back home, they struggled emotionally and mentally with keeping the weight off. (I actually feel like the latter part of the story with this struggle to keep the weight off was the part that resonated with me the most, where these women centered their lives around their new weight and what they put into their mouths and how they viewed food overall-it was almost an obsession, but in a different way than it was at the beginning of the story.)
Some of the points that the author incorporated into the story that I connected with especially and appreciated:
- the connection between Daphne’s love of cooking, her pure enjoyment of food, and her weight loss
- the way the women felt when they had to try on clothing and get dressed up for special events
- the way the women felt about themselves and framed their words when they knew that young girls were listening to them
- the way they related to their husbands in their larger sizes vs after they lost the weight
Ultimately Alice, Daphne, and the rest of the women at the retreat had a lot of character growth throughout the story, although it was sometimes hard for me to read their struggle with the weight and body issues. Even so, I do think their issues were handled with care and I think the things that these women experienced were very real issues and struggles that women deal with in our culture…with the exception of going away to a secluded place in Vermont to lose weight and having this experienced filmed as a documentary. This part was obviously way outside of the ordinary, but it was still interesting and thought-provoking: exactly how far are some people willing to go to lose weight? For these seven women, the lengths were embarrassing and extraordinary and dangerous. I think a ton of people that have struggled with weight in any way can relate at least a little bit.
Also, sidenote, one of the best things about this book is that these women that go away to lose weight do end up becoming close because they are able to bond over this stressful and unique circumstance in their lives. While the book chooses to focus mostly on two or three of these women by having Alice and Daphne tell the entire story, it is clear that the women have a closeness and a fondness for one another because of their shared experience, and I love the growth of these relationships so much.