Stephanie Klein was an eighth grader with a weight problem. It was a problem at school, where the boys called her "Moose," and it was a problem at home, where her father reminded her, "No one likes fat girls." After many frustrating sessions with a nutritionist known as the fat doctor of Roslyn Heights, Long Island, Klein's parents enrolled her for a summer at fat camp. Determined to return to school thin and popular, without her "lard arms" and "puckered ham," Stephanie embarked on a memorable journey that would shape more than just her body. It would shape her life.
When Klein (Straight Up and Dirty) becomes pregnant and is instructed to gain weight, she flashes back to the years of trying to reduce. As an overweight eight-year-old, she was told, You will struggle with this for the rest of your life. Eventually, she got fed up with what she calls fatnalysis and her only concern was how to get thin. Yet the emotional distance of her mother, the cutting remarks of her father and a severe beating by her aunt explain why she felt her body was too big to hold the nothing that was in me. In school, fat meant unpopular, not unhealthy. Even her father laughs when hearing Klein s nickname, Moose. At 13, she attended fat camp, where girls holding their own rolls of fat made me feel less alone. Klein movingly relates the humiliation she endured from other campers and her flirtation with bulimia. But in the end, the narrative is less of a journey than a slog. While capturing the agonies of the unpopular, Klein succinctly sums up society s attitude to overweight women. But the insights are obvious: society is cruel to fat kids, and kind to thin ones.