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Designated Fat Girl: A Memoir
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Designated Fat Girl: A Memoir

2.91  ·  Rating Details ·  394 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
A brutally honest memoir of life as an obese woman—
the pain, humiliation . . . and hope

Jennifer Joyner was slowly killing herself with food. She didn’t know what to fear more: dying, or knowing that she was causing her own death. She was powerless to stop. She weighed 336 pounds. She had uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. She’d lost jobs and friendships, and he
Paperback, 264 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by skirt! (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 12, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
I am saddened by all the negative reviews of this book. The majority of them seem to be from people who just see the author as a fat person who choses to be fat due to a lack of self control, and who does nothing but whine and complain. These reviews are quite obviously from people who do not understand nor accept food addiction. That is really unfortunate. As a person who is an emotional eater, I found this book to be a pretty accurate depiction of a number of things I have suffered with. Peopl ...more
Sep 27, 2010 Vicki rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-biography
Well, it's honest, that's for sure. And because the book and its author are so honest, you read some things you wish you hadn't about her. Sometimes when I'm going through book review journals for work, I'll add something to my "to-read" list, and forget why I did. This was one of them. I guess I expected a more cohesive book, but mostly, it's a lot of circling in and out of these passages of self-destruction, self-loathing, and mania. Which is good when you look at it from the perspective of wa ...more
Bethany Andrews
Feb 09, 2011 Bethany Andrews rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This isn't a memoir, it's a whiny mess.


I'm not discrediting that Joyner's struggle with obesity was a difficult one. I have no doubt that it was. I'm sure that she's accurately describing the self esteem and confidence issues, the feelings of worthlessness and self hatred...I don't doubt any of that. But geeeezussss stop whining. I don't know what it was, but every single sentence in this book comes across and whiny and self righteous. It was terrib
Wendy Wallace
Sep 23, 2010 Wendy Wallace rated it liked it
I, too, respected the author for being extremely honest about her experiences. You know how, in your own mind, you think you're doing horrible things to yourself that other people would be shocked to find out? This is one of those books that makes you realize you're not doing too badly when you read about someone who has done much, much worse. For this I am grateful.

My biggest problem with the book is that it was very disorganized. The author jumped from one past experience to another and then r
Jan 13, 2011 Molly rated it did not like it
This is really hard to read... I don't know how far I will get.
Okay. The reason that this was so hard to read was not because of her obesity and detailed descriptions of living large; it was because of the intense self-hatred and fat-hating in general. (Well, the rough writing and jumping back and forth in time didn't help, either.) At times, it was like reading a middle-schooler's diary- just ridiculous amounts of self-loathing, berating, and justifications for being what sounds like a fair
Connie Curtis
Sep 29, 2011 Connie Curtis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jennifer is very frustrating. I don't think I will ever understand how anyone can stuff themselves so full of food in one sitting as she does, as do all the other morbidly obese people who write about their problems. She had absolutely no self-control or even common sense when it came to feeding herself, and I found that rather annoying. She drove herself to the drive-through windows and ordered for two; she snuck food everywhere and hid the wrappers from everyone, thinking no one would notice. ...more
Pat Edwards
Nov 06, 2010 Pat Edwards rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. I think the author believes she delivered a deep, honest memoir. She never once got beneath the surface and obvious beliefs driving her behavior. The only saving grace of the book is she DOES NOT recommend gastric by-pass surgery, even though she herself had it.
Mar 12, 2011 Suzanne rated it it was ok
I think I'm being generous with 2 stars - if I could I'd go with 1.5 stars. I'll say up front that I don't believe in food 'addictions' and I'm not a big advocate of gastric bypass or lap band surgery, so maybe my experience of the book was tainted. I can say that I have struggled with weight issues most of my life and I do sympathize with the author to some degree, and I do give her a lot of credit for her 'brutal' honesty.

All that said, here's what I thought of the book (and I see many others
Liza H
Mar 22, 2011 Liza H rated it it was ok
Shelves: done
While I think Joyner was brave in writing this, and while I could actually relate to her (to a point), there were parts about this book, and the writing, which annoyed me. The author's frequent useage of the answer-her-own-question method got tiresome ("Do I think everyone who is obese is depressed? No. Do I hope they find help? Yes." etc.) I know a lot of people complain that the entire thing is "too whiny" but since Joyner says at the very beginning that it's a completely honest account of her ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok
TRAIN. WRECK. this women is why people hate fat people. she had more problems than being just fat, which she didn't really figure out until the end of the book. hello?!? depression? coping problems? i could see those from the first fucking chapter. but GOD FUCKING FORBID she take PILLS.

she lied to her doctors. she hid food from her family. yes, she was a food addict, but that is an issue COMPLETELY SEPARATE from the fact that she is/was fat. treat the addiction. treat the depression. work on you
Jul 27, 2011 Carla added it
Mrs. Joyner, a local native to my area, bares all in this book. She recounts her struggle w/food addiction and the difficult choice to undergo gastric bypass surgery. She eloquently describes the destructive and vicious cycle of food addiction and the self loathing that accompanies it. She even recounts humiliating and desperate incidents that hit home for those of us that have been there and done that. Through her account the reader realizes that they are not alone and food addiction is a real ...more
Lisa Eirene
Jun 21, 2011 Lisa Eirene rated it it was ok
I REALLY wanted to like the book. I could really relate to her bad eating habits, the self-loathing and the pain was real but I was disappointed that she "fixed" her problem with surgery. As someone who lost over 100 pounds "the hard way" it's hard for me to really be interested in reading about someone who took the easy way out.
Rachele Cateyes
Dec 06, 2013 Rachele Cateyes rated it did not like it
This is definitely the anti fat positive book. The author has some strong feelings about anyone that thinks 'big is beautiful', that it is a lie and impossible. She is shallow, judgemental and fat phobic. Thumbs way way down. I can't even get into the whole weight loss surgery being a disaster and she still thinks it is God's gift to the fat. Ugh.
Dec 19, 2010 Krysten rated it did not like it
This woman portrays herself as the champion for overweight women (and men) but really she's the perfect postergirl for gastric bypass surgery. Her problems are caused by psychological issues related to food and no amount of diet drugs or surgery will keep her thin and healthy unless she first fixes these problems.
Nov 01, 2010 Sadie rated it did not like it
While it is an interesting topic and the author is unflinchingly honest, the writing was atrocious. Also, the author seems to have zero insight about herself, something that is sorely needed in a memoir.
Sep 17, 2010 Shannon rated it did not like it
I appreciate the writer's honesty but mostly I found myself wanting to smack her. Doctors tried to help her and she didn't follow their advice, stopped taking medication, etc. She is bent on self-destruction to the detriment of her husband and kids.
Cathy Brennan
what a dreadful little book!
Dec 19, 2010 SmarterLilac rated it liked it

I have so many conflicted reactions to this memoir, the most significant of which is pity for the extremity of suffering Jennifer Joyner went through during her time as a person with morbid obesity. I confess, the reason I picked up this book was because I felt I needed to try to be more sympathetic to the emotional struggles of overweight people, especially women, and even though I've tried to see it 'their way' in the past, I haven't always been very successful at empathizing. I think thi
Sep 27, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellen Keim
Sep 06, 2011 Ellen Keim rated it it was ok
First of all, what was with the cover photo? An empty swimming pool? Because she didn't like to be seen in a bathing suit maybe? That didn't bode well for the book.

Actually, I didn't think her writing was bad. What I got tired of, and why I ended up skipping ahead, was how exhaustive her writing was. She seemed to think that the reader had to know every little thing about her life as a fat person in agonizing detail. I kept thinking, "Enough already. When are you going to get to the part where y
Oct 29, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok
This is styled as an addiction memoir, where the author recovered from an addiction to binging on junk food, basically. I don't think it goes far enough. In the addiction stories I've read, the author will generally not expect you to excuse or agree with the destructive behavior -- it was the result of an addiction. But this author seems to expect you to back her up. She explains that she couldn't lose weight by cutting out the Mountain Dew because she doesn't like the taste of diet soda. She sa ...more
Janell P
Nov 04, 2010 Janell P rated it it was ok
I kept thinking about the tons of Mountain Dew she claimed to drink and the visits to fast food restaurants and excuses for not being able to lose weight. I felt sympathetic and compassion and could relate to the vicious circle of self-sabotage with regard to her food addiction. She doesn't spend much time writing about her gastric bypass surgery and I wanted to read more about her experience. The bit she did write about was mostly negative because she had some complications. Then two months pos ...more
Aug 06, 2016 C rated it it was ok

I found myself skimming. It jumps back and forth in time in such a disorienting, random way that it became frustrating. It felt like unraveling a sweater over and over. And perhaps that's how her journey with her weight and food addiction felt.

Throughout the entire book, I felt like there was much more going on, that she doesn't see or know to address. There's clearly been an accumulation of bullying and humiliation in her life that would scar the heck out of anyone, but it feels like there's so
Mary Havens
Apr 15, 2016 Mary Havens rated it really liked it
I loved how real Joyner was, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You wanted to stop her and you couldn't, and she couldn't either. I cried at the part about Eli being born and her unable to hold him and realizing it was her terrible choices that led him to the NICU.

I have never had a food addiction but I do struggle with food and weight issues. The Fry Daddy? Oh yeah, we had completely fried meals of chicken strips and tater babies growing up. Saving money to buy food? Got it. Chef Boyardee pizzas
Oct 01, 2011 Heather rated it liked it
This shockingly open, honest memoir really struck a cord with me. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, I related to a lot of Jennifer's story. I think a lot of people don't realize that food addiction is an eating disorder and often has similar roots as anorexia and bulimia. Just as with those more commonly known disorders, people with binge eating disorder go through elaborate lengths to hide their problem (though are often not as successful due to weight gain), have a lot of s ...more
Kristy Mallet
Jan 20, 2014 Kristy Mallet rated it liked it
I found this book incredibly real and powerful at points. The first part of the book I felt well written and very accurate in the portrayal of what food addiction feels like, and what the battle is truly about. Most people will have a difficult time understanding this because they've never BEEN there - just as anyone who's never been an alcoholic thinks you just need to "put down the drink". It is so much more complicated than that, and the author portrays the internal struggle of this incredibl ...more
Carianne Carleo-Evangelist
Dec 22, 2015 Carianne Carleo-Evangelist rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
Two very different subjects but the right level of reading depth I was in the mood for this weekend. I started with Joyner’s on Friday and packed a dead-tree copy of Salomon’s for a walk when I knew my iPad battery wasn’t charged. I finished that this morning and then Joyner’s this afternoon. At the gym, no less.

I enjoyed both equally, but I found that I connected more with Joyner’s book, although my weight struggles luckily never went so far. I’m so glad to see she’s still working at the radio
Mar 31, 2014 Erin rated it liked it
I liked this book because it provided an entree into a world I'm not familiar with. It was a window into the pain of the morbidly obese. It gave me more empathy, that's for sure.

My primary criticism of the book is that it had no reasonable timeline. The story would have been MUCH improved if it was told cronologically. Instead she broke it up into topic-related chapters, but it made no sense to me. I couldn't follow her ups and downs with weight and had no handle on her journey by the close of
Jul 08, 2011 Angie rated it liked it
What an awakening! To live as an obese person on a daily basis is quite a handicap ... something I never realized. On one hand, parts of this book made me ill by the amount of food this woman could choke down at each meal (2 full size pizzas and a drive through hamburger meal ... this was ONE meal). On the other hand, I felt sorry for her because of her addiction to food. Addiction to food is a bit controversial but I thoroughly believe addiction to anything is possible.

My hairdresser in Bremer
Aug 09, 2011 Laurie rated it liked it
Sure, the author tended to repeat stories. And yes, the book could have been edited and put together a bit better. There was so much back and forth in time that I had difficulty figuring out where we were on the timeline. But I do have to give Jennifer Joyner props for writing so candidly about a personal struggle with food and weight. I'm sure it's hard for anyone to talk about how you're too obese to have sex with your husband or that you have so many fat rolls you start to get yeast infection ...more
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