For Jennifer Joyner, life as a morbidly obese woman was a series of daily humiliations: on any given day she might crack the toilet seat, break the swing, outgrow her clothes, endure casual cruelty, be unable to tie her shoes, find bathing difficult, and the list, sadly, went on and on. Being morbidly obese also meant giving birth to a 12 pound baby because of uncontrolled gestational diabetes, seeing her dream of being an on-air television reporter die, ending relationships because she couldn’t endure the shame, and facing the fact that even though she was in her early 30s, she would be dealing with diabetes the rest of her life.
Jennifer tried, oh how she tried, to control her addiction to food: Weight Watchers, diet books, diet pills, therapy, nothing she did gave her the dreamed-about, longed-for, lasting weight loss she desperately craved. Filled with self-loathing at her lack of control when she inevitably slipped on her latest diet, she would fill the hole with double cheeseburgers and Mountain Dew. Finally, when Jennifer was well over 300 pounds, her husband gently suggested she try gastric bypass surgery, something she had resisted because it seemed like cheating. She had two small children to care for, though, and sixteen years of failing to lose weight on her own, maybe, she thought, surgery was the only choice she had.
There are tears on nearly every page of Designated Fat Girl, tears and pain and a searing self-hatred that is oftentimes difficult to read. Jennifer’s honesty is compelling, however, and her memoir isn’t without flashes of self-deprecating humor. Mostly, though, the reader genuinely roots for her success, because this is someone you’ve come to care about.