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The Fat Girl's Guide to Life

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  894 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
Vibrant, vivacious, and gorgeous, Wendy Shanker is a fat girl who has simply had enough-enough of family, friends, co-workers, women's magazines, even strangers on the street all trying (and failing) to make her thin. Written in Wendy's wonderfully funny and candid voice, The Fat Girl's Guide to Life provides thought-provoking insights, statistics, and body-image resources ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 2nd 2005 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,623)
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Summer Lewis
Aug 03, 2010 Summer Lewis rated it really liked it
Shelves: body
A fun read for any woman of any shape and size. Candid, funny, and a good reality check.

Some quotes I liked:
It’s time to change our attitudes about this whole body-image business. It is a business. It is an image. But it is YOUR body, which contains YOUR mind, which can be a whole lot easier to change than the width of your thighs or the shape of your ass.
(page 2)

…But I no longer apologize for who I am or how I look. I have more important things to do.
So do you. You have a career to pursue, y
Jul 28, 2011 Samantha rated it liked it
As a fatty, I definitely WANTED to love this book. I got it home, started reading, had a few laughs, but all in all (and I'm about 4/5 the way through it) I have to say I'm a little disappointed.

With lines like: "At least Tyra and Cameron had the satisfaction of knowing that they were gonna make good when they filled out. When we grow up (and fill in), we Hefties are still...garbage," I was left thinking, "This is supposed to be encouraging?" While I can relate to some of the things that Shanke
Linda Robinson
Aug 13, 2010 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A zippy, entertaining, intelligent, yaHOO romp through the world of size 12 +. There are laughs ("Back a zillion years ago, before the sexual revolution, women were repressed and life was easy.") There is anger ("We are taught to behave. To be good. To shrink, to fit in. To act like nice girls. To shut up.") And throughout there is the reality of being a big woman in a shopaholic world that doesn't make clothes, or room, for us. So many bookmarked places in this book, I got to revisit it to make ...more
Jul 09, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
One of my new favorites!

If Wendy Shanker in real life is anything like Wendy Shanker author, I really want to hang out with her. Anyone who writes, “I have no patience for people who won’t eat this and won’t eat that…Three cheers for discipline but, like, stay home and eat.” is someone I want to know. YES! Stay home, indeed. Being a scone/muffin/pastry-a-day gal myself, an immediate sense of camaraderie flooded my senses upon reading these lines and it has stayed. Shanker, author of The Fat Girl
Karen Langford
Nov 07, 2011 Karen Langford rated it really liked it
As a plump girl I found this book funny and entertaining, and took away from it the idea that as a culture we really need to struggle to forget about the way people look, and try to treat everyone as human beings. Seriously, there are more important things to think about - that's the message. And it gets delivered in a nice laugh-out-loud wrapper, which is great. So don't buy this thinking this is a How To or a Self Help book. It's an entertaining read from an American stand-up comedian, with so ...more
Jul 25, 2014 Leanne rated it liked it
I certainly don't agree with all the ideas set out in this book, and at times it is just plain whiney and not at all uplifting! There was also a bit too much throwing around of the "real women" label for my taste. Last time I checked we were all real.

But some things, like showing yourself compassion, not getting sucked in by the media's obsession with a very narrow set of beauty standards, and knowing that you're so much more than your dress size are things I can certainly get behind. Also, the
Feb 25, 2015 shana rated it it was ok
I'm really conflicted with this one. This book has an overall good message and a lot of good points, but I feel like Wendy keeps trying to mention yeah, I'm fat, but I'm not FAT. I mean, not like that 300 pound midwestern lady! Ew! And being a model is literally impossible, so what a surprise when I was scouted by a modeling agency! Left a bad taste in my mouth.
Crystal Hutton Hult
Jun 02, 2014 Crystal Hutton Hult rated it did not like it
I was given this book to read from a friend that thought I would like it. At the time she gave it to me, I might have, but not now. I was a member of the 12+ group this book is geared toward. I decided I didn't like being a member of that group so I changed things about my life to make that possible. I felt like this book was skinny-shaming, much as the author has felt she has been fat-shamed her whole life. I agree and understand that some people are simply bigger, yet healthy. I get that, but ...more
Kelly Lynn Thomas
Wendy Shanker swiftly cuts down any and all reasons for fat shaming and holding prejudice against people who have non-supermodel bodies. She explores issues of food, self-image, exercise, health (and whether or not it's possible to be healthy AND fat), dieting, and more.

Through her personal experiences and eventual acceptance of herself for who she is, she shares her wonderment at the great variety human beings possess, and her bewilderment that we think we should all look like a tiny percent of
Mar 17, 2016 Kashka rated it it was ok
I was pretty disappointed with this. Although it had the potential to be revolutionary and did have some good points (good exposing of the politicization of obesity) it failed in some ways.
Go shopping, get a gay best friend for high school & stave off the desire to completely hate yourself until you too are a wealthy, straight, white woman.

The book really misses out on empowering and uniting women with such blatant awfulness as
'let's teach men to be attracted to fat women' (er, let's not,
Sep 24, 2014 Tracy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"Think about how much time you've spent thinking about that poundage, and the time you've spent punishing yourself about that poundage. Then I'd like you to imagine NOT doing that. Instead, imagine the relief you'd feel if you could walk past a plate-glass window without cursing your reflection. Imagine not sucking it in when your office crush object strolls by... Now, imagine if we all did it. The Fat Girls and the Skinny Chicks...The Movie Stars and the PR Agents, The Soccer Moms and the CEOs. ...more
I thought Shanker's views and experiences about what it means to be "Fat" were funny and insightful. I had a hard time relating to her on a lot of levels, however, particularly when it came to her many rants about dieting. It often seemed to me that she was stating the obvious (i.e. diets will not make you skinny, or healthy). I did weight watchers once in high school and that was my first and last experience with "dieting." Overall I can't say I've ever felt any sort of connection to this suppo ...more
May 11, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
Wendy Shanker decided to take back the word fat, and make it work for her. Her book is funny, informative, and honest. It also has some amazing self-esteem discoveries, and it promotes being healthy and learning about self-love. My only problem with it is that she sometimes contradicted herself and also repeated herself occasionally.

She writes about stereotypes, discrimination, clothing, self-esteem, sex, and even food. She pretty much breaks it down, and lets the readers know it's okay to be a
Spook Harrison
Jul 30, 2013 Spook Harrison rated it it was amazing
No wonder this book is mentioned in other books I love! Picked it up recognizing the author at a Half-Price Books and am loving it. I would have never known that (in 2004) McDonald's spent a bit over $2 in advertising trying to get me and every other man, woman and child in the US to buy from them (p. 47). I've always known that if diets worked the diet industry would put itself out of business in a heartbeat, but hearing her numbers on the Weight Watchers industry were still surprising. Chapter ...more
A. Adlilah
Jun 02, 2015 A. Adlilah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, funny
Question first. Can I really write a review of a book that I technically never finished? I shouldn't, right? But I need to have some closure before I can move on to another book, so I won't be reviewing this book, so much as I am going to share what I feel when I read this book.

I decided to stop reading this book on page 167. I know, I know, I was so close to actually finishing the book. But a thought hit me, should I really just finish reading the book just for the heck of it? When I actually a
May 01, 2012 Marsha rated it really liked it
If Mae West were alive today, she’d be called fat and men wouldn’t look sideways at her. But in her day she was one of the hottest sex symbols of her time. So what do they know? However, Wendy didn’t have that kind of self confidence to thumb her nose at convention. She went through diet plan after diet plan and nothing worked, at least not for very long.

The book soars, however, when she stops taking the whole business so seriously and makes irreverent comments about the business of weight loss
Dominique Broomes
Oct 14, 2014 Dominique Broomes rated it it was ok
I thought that this book would be empowering and funny but instead it exuded self loathing. I really wouldn't recommend this to any one who is trying to love their body just as it is. This book definitely will not do that. Instead it will tell you to lower your standards when looking for love because, after all, you are fat and you can't expect Brad Pitt to love you...

Jan 20, 2016 V rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good, honest, empowering book on female self acceptance, no matter if you meet the societal expectation of Barbie doll thinness or not. The author is an exceptionally astute observer of society's views regarding fatness. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who struggles with self worth issues because of her weight.
Kaitlin Mooney
Nov 24, 2013 Kaitlin Mooney rated it did not like it
Shelves: own
I picked this book up to read because I was in the midst of reading Carmelo, and I needed something quick and trashy to keep me going before I dived back into my epic. This book was all over the place, darting between fat pride and "I work out so people don't judge me" and I felt like it was a hard message to follow, although maybe it just made it more realistic. This memoir/semi-self help book was great in its encouragement to trash the diet industry, the whole BMI standard, and to understand t ...more
Natalie Helregel
Jul 11, 2013 Natalie Helregel rated it liked it
Fun and feminist. This book does a good job of explaining topics and statements that, if worded wrong, could seem harsh or misleading. It's a light-hearted book for something that's taken so seriously in the media and medical worlds. I knew a lot about and agreed with most of what she was writing about because I find society and it's attitude towards women and their size and shape to be ridiculous. Of course I didn't agree with everything written but that's the interesting part. The book had a l ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Serena rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book. I saw this years ago when I was shopping in Torrid and kind of dismissed it. I never wanted to be fat or was ever proud of it. I thought this book was going to be very, I'm fat get over it, but it wasn't. Sure the author advises to love yourself right now, but it's more about health than trying to reach a certain number on the scale. There are a lot of studies and references to other authors who have tackled the issue of weight. I didn't want to put this book down. I could ...more
This was a thoughtful, funny book that I would recommend to all women. It's about accepting yourself and making the right choices for yourself, but manages to be witty and not preachy.
Apr 23, 2016 Magie rated it did not like it
I wanted a lot more out of this book than I got. Granted it is dated by a decade and so a lot has changed and moved forward in the body acceptance community that this book just can't catch up to or comment on. However, I felt that while the author had really good intentions, she fell short on a handful of occasions where she came off really judgmental, exacerbating stereotypes of certain groups (while trying so hard to dismantle those about Fat Girls [and guys I hope]), and even shaming other gr ...more
This is another fat-positive book in the vein of Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere. Shanker covers familiar topics--including media images, medical journalism, the weight-loss industry--in a friendly tone. She reiterates the message that a woman should focus on being healthy, not skinny, when it comes to thinking about scales, food & exercise. (It always irritates me when well-intentioned friends and family ask, 'do you want to join me on my diet?' No, I don't, but I will join you in eating sens ...more
Linnea McGowan
Aug 21, 2007 Linnea McGowan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who look like me or have someone who looks like me?
Shelves: myworldsquared
What I learned from this book: Ghandi isn't the only preaching the words "Be the change you want to see in the world."

I thought this book was very funny, easy to read, and in my case, very easy to relate to. I enjoyed the stats that would spring up; as well as the way she stressed drawing your own conclusions after presenting new information.

All in all, I liked it a lot but think it's time for a second edition (for example, her example "hot chick" is Britney Spears. Now...that might have worke
Apr 15, 2008 rachelle rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fat girls, skinny chicks, moms of daughters
Shelves: 2008
I liked this and think she presented some interesting points about size issues. There were times when her voice irritated me and left me believing that she only thinks it's okay to be fat if you work out regularly. Like, I'm fat but I hit my target heart rate like I'm supposed to but YOU are fat and you just sit around all day with Ben and Jerry so you're a BAD kind of fat.

She wasn't saying it outright, but I saw it in the in-betweens. Still, mostly a good read and made me really think about how
Apr 29, 2015 Diana rated it it was amazing
I read this book some years ago, and it has remained in my top ten ever since. Best.
Jul 25, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was ok
Disappointing. It was well written and could have been funny but as someone else said, she's all over the place in reactions to being fat and while she seems to promote that it's okay to be fat, it's clear she isn't happy with being fat herself. She continues to talk about dieting and that's okay--but she loves her body, although personally I have a hard time with I love my body, now change.

If I had read this at another time, maybe but there are so many other great books on being fat in a thin
ONTD Feminism
Apr 22, 2010 ONTD Feminism rated it really liked it
LJ user popehippo:

A chronicle of the author's struggles with her weight, her pereception of it, the negativity of the Diet Culture, and her acceptance of it. I haven't read it in a while but this was a HUGE influence for me going through high school, and made me feel much better about myself. I haven't run into other books that I identified with quite as much, though there probably are better out there, but I'd still really suggest it!
Meg Marie
May 15, 2014 Meg Marie rated it it was amazing
I loved this. I would like to mandate that all middle school girls read it. I wanted to put page after page on facebook, because her message about accepting yourself and working to be your BEST self (not your thinnest self) really resonated with me and was inspiring. There's a lot of good factual information in here too about the actual "obesity crisis" and who funds all of the research (it's Weight Watchers) and about how people's perception of a healthy body has changed.
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  • The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health
  • Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--And the Myths and Realities of Dieting
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  • Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body
  • Fat Is a Feminist Issue
  • Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology
  • Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession
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  • Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free
Wendy Shanker's humorous, hopeful memoir about women and body image, The Fat Girl's Guide to Life (Bloomsbury USA) changed the way many women related to their weight. You may have seen Wendy discussing her book on The View, Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, or on her national tour sponsored by Macy's Woman. The Fat Girl's Guide was recently released in paperback, and will be published in s ...more
More about Wendy Shanker...

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“As far as I know, Gwyneth Paltrow has not compared herself to me today, so I've decided that I will not compare myself to her.” 14 likes
“Let’s take the focus off “fat” and put it on health. Let’s take the focus off “skinny” and put it on good common sense. Let’s take the focus off body image and put it on education, women’s rights, human rights, the economy, baseball cards, anything.” 9 likes
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