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Thin Is the New Happy

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,341 ratings  ·  248 reviews
"Val Frankel is a woman of amazing insight. . . . Read this, weep, and heal."

--Stacy London, cohost of "What Not to Wear"

You've heard the phrase "the mirror is not your friend." For Valerie Frankel, the mirror was so much more than "not a friend." It was the mean girl who stole her lunch money, bitch-slapped her in the ladies' room, and cut the hair off her Barbie.

"If you'
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2008)
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 ·  1,341 ratings  ·  248 reviews

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Feb 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Thin is the New Happy by Val Frankel, purports to be a book on how the author conquered her body image issues.

She talks about being a chubby kid whose mother enrolled her in Weight Watchers at the age of 11 and had her doing fad diets at the age of *8.* She talks about yo-yo dieting and how she hated her body. She talks about self-medicating with booze, drugs and sex to try to feel better about her body.

And then, at the end, after writing about the things she did to feel better about herself ...
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Valerie Frankel isn't that different from most American women. She has weight issues and she's lost the same 10 (15? 20?) lbs. multiple times. What is different, though, is that Frankel decided once and for all to let go of her diet angst. And write about it.

I enjoyed tracing her history of preoccupation with her body and her weight (I completely identify with thinking body-nullifying thoughts multiple times a day, and wishing to be anorexic just for a month or so). She does a masterful job of e
Dani B
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! From the very beginning when Valerie Frankel compares her weight to a “serious, nonviolent crime”, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. It was an exceptionally easy read, and was very relatable. Frankel gets her point across using humor, touching personal stories, and brutal honesty, which makes it seem like you’re reading something written by a friend, not a distant, unknown author. The part of the book that stuck out to me the most was when she talks about how her husband ...more
George K. Ilsley
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Sometimes I wonder why I am reading a particular book. With this one, I decided that memoirs written by "writers" are weaker than those written by non-writers. Writers tend to toss off memoirs as side projects, while non-writers pour their hearts and souls into the work. In any event, Frankel here keeps mentioning she's a writer and a comedic writer and I kept thinking "show, don't tell!"

Much annoying (and wasted) word play, combined with the sometimes oblivious use of language, was really distr
Debra Komar
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
A textbook example of memoirs that are really just therapy for the writer, and misery for the audience. Valerie Frankel has body image issues that she claims are the result of messages sent by her mother and grandmother when she was younger. Fair enough, and a fairly common scenario. The problems are: a) Valerie Frankel's intense self-loathing and need to body shame, b) the book is all tell, no show, c) the message to the reader is that, unless you are thin, there is something wrong with you. Th ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Val Frankel has spent most of her life obsessed with her weight and dieting- from a childhood dominated by a hyper-critical, fat-phobic mom (a characterization whom I suspect a LOT of us born in the 70s recognized as kind of like our own moms) who started putting her on diets as a child "out of love", to a tumultuous adolescence as a punk who rebelled against her appearance-concious mother by going full mohawk F-U fashion, to a hippie college kid gaining the freshman 15 from a lot of the pot-ind ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Honestly, it's been years since I've read this. And I'm not someone who does "proper" reviews that often anyway, but as a teenager I enjoyed this book. It made me laugh and cry, and do I care if it wrapped up a little too nicely? No. It gave me hope that it was actually possible to overcome all the insecurities of body weight and actually be comfortable in your own skin. I really think that's what this book was about.

When I a teenager, I struggled really badly with my weight. I would get seriou
Oct 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fat
I needed a pep talk. I was feeling down about my stomach. Depending on the chair, my belly would touch my thighs when I sat down. I had gained some weight over my vacation. I need to go up a size in pants. I was talking a good game about loving my body as is and getting off the diet merry-go-round, but on the inside I was a hypocrit and self-hating. So, I returned to this memoir "Thin Is the New Happy" to see if it would give a swift kick in my well-padded rear.

It did, sort of.

Val got lessons i
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
I only read this book because we know the author's parents. We had heard that the author's mother was extremely upset about the way she was portrayed in the book (although she hadn't read it herself), and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Well, it's true that her mother comes in for criticism, but the bigger news, at least to me, was the author's willingness to confess levels of pathetically debased behavior beyond any reason. I guess it made her feel good; maybe some kind of catharsis ...more
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Valerie Frankel writes about her struggle with body image ... her upbringing, her youth, her profession, her constant dieting. She decides to not-diet, and learn to begin letting go of all of the emotional baggage that goes with the dieting cycle.

It's a well written, insightful, entertaining read. It got me thinking about not just my body image, but my entire self-image. A favorite quote, from her chapter called Emotional Maintenance:

"Among all oppressed peoples throughout history, we women hol
When Val was only 11 years old, her mother started in on her about dieting and losing weight. That has stayed with Val her entire life. This book tells of her struggle to stop the constant dieting.

I really enjoyed reading this. Val had a tough time, not only at home, but was teased at school, as well. Each chapter focuses on one main thing in her life (though there are a few chapters about her mother, with whom she does have a good relationship now) like school, her rebelling as a teenager, eac
Karen Cino
Aug 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I have to say I was able to relate with this book as far as the dealing with weight problem at this point in my life. The gaining and losing of the same ten to fifteen pounds have been ongoing for me too. At one point in my life I was down to a size three and exercising over an hour a day. (And I felt horrible as well as looked horrible. There is such a thing as too thin.) When menopause hits it's a whole new struggle. This book is great for women in their early forties and over. I wouldn't reco ...more
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non_fiction, health
Val Frankel shares pretty much all her dirty laundry, and how it relates to her negative body image. As someone that has had a lifelong struggle with weight, I related to her stories of yo-yo dieting, and the rush you get when you start a new plan (the plan that will change your life, of course). Ultimately, she discovers that dieting is a curse in itself, and works her way toward self-realization. Some readers may not like her descriptive depictions of her constant drug use and promiscuity, or ...more
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was somewhat painful for me to read because I related to so many of the situations that the author wrote about regarding her maddening journey with weight loss and being happy with her body type/size. While I didn't have the kind of mother that the author had (not even close!!), I did have horrific, emotionally traumatizing encounters with mean boys in elementary school and junior high and I am sure that this is the root of my own weight issues. I probably need therapy. If you are skin ...more
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Another goodwill find. This book is thankfully,not a chick lit. memoir. It looks why we think thin is better from a cultural and psychological stand point and how the ultimate goal should be physical and emotional health. Plus, Val Frankel is good friends with Stacy London. London discusses dressing well from more of an intellectual stand point and we learn that she has a Degree in Philosophy from Vassar. Weight is more of a self-esteem issue to Frankel and I like the idea of using a clicker for ...more
Andrea Adams
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. It pretty much reiterates the eat when you're hungry, stop when you are full theory of weight loss, BUT- what it really does is tap into the emotional side of dieting. All of the negative self talk, and the constant losing and regaining. I really enjoyed this woman's perpspective and hope that I can stop all of the negative image bashing feelings and thoughts that I constantly have. Especially to be a better example for my girls. Definitely recommended to anyone on the die ...more
Cindie Harp
Mar 20, 2009 rated it liked it
I had fun reading this book, which reminded me of a kind of expanded how-to-take-control-of-my-eating from any woman's magazine. I feel like we have all read way too many of those, and yet this book was like visiting with an unusually honest, un-self-concious friend. Still, her self-excavation of her past with food and eating was brave and made me, while not interested in participating the intense psyche exploration she endured, more open to my own mental machinations rather than the cycle of se ...more
Feb 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Okay, I heard from some reputable source that this was a good book. I was skeptical--look at the cover!!! Also, the author of this memoir usually writes chick lit and mysteries. But I decided to read it regardless. It was actually pretty good--it's all about the author's lifelong struggle with her weight/body image, etc. I could relate to all her stuff about being ugly and unpopular in junior high, and also to her adult wardrobe of cheap, black clothing.
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A great book that addresses body image. A memoir - so told from the authors perspective but highly relatable. She choses to address her thinking and honestly and openly shares her journey and the truth she discovers. If you have ever defined your worth by your waistline this is worth picking up.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I related to this book so much. It was like the author was telling my dieting & weight story. I want to share this book with other friends who had similar experiences as young ladie's but I may have to keep this one for myself. I may need to refer back to it to stop the dieting rollercoaster that I am still on. no more diets!!! ...more
Aug 11, 2011 added it
This woman's body image is seriously skewed. She considered herself a "behemoth" at a size 14. I was pretty much over her whining at that point. I cannot say I enjoyed the book after I realized her "fat years" were when she was a size 14. Give me a break.
Emily Goenner
Jun 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this up at Goodwill for 10 cents, even though I didn't plan to read it. It was worth 10 cents for sure--insightful and easy to read, its good for anyone who has weight issues and who doesn't?
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Liked it very much. I definitely connected to and identified with what Frankel shared in this memoir. Her style is easy going, insightful, and humorous.
Cynthia Harrison
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I like Valerie Frankel's writing very much. Her novels are funny, her magazine pieces always sharp. But this is the second book I've read in a row where a thin woman complains about her weight. Frankel considers any size over an 8 unacceptable. She did the yo-yo thing from sizes in the upper teens to 8 for years an years. She was a chubby kid and her mom put her on a diet at an early age. I was not a chubby kid. I gained weight in my thirties after I quit smoking. But for a long time, Val and I ...more
Alex Bromley
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
For anyone who has struggled with body image this is a pretty good read. It's a simple memoir of Valerie Frankel and her struggle to love her body. Being an overweight child with a mother who was very weight-focused and being teased by her peers about her weight she developed a very distorted view of her body which caused her to chronically diet. It tells the story of how she came to love herself. I enjoyed it. It was well written. However, I did disagree with some of the things she said and I c ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I'd checked out this book from the library but procrastinated about reading it for months. When I finally did, I found the description of her work at Mademoiselle magazine the most compelling part of the book instead of her struggles with weight. I also appreciated her shout out to my "What Not To Wear" fave Stacey London.
Other than those admittedly shallow, dishy aspects, I found the book although readable, a bit of a light weight.
Jamie Clark
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Good book about learning to love your body and getting over bad body image, I gave it a 3 star only because it could have been shortened a bit and it seemed to ramble on at times. Overall, I enjoyed it and learned a little about myself in the process!
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A helpful way of looking at obsessive dieting syndrome. I enjoyed it.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
Not a tremendously gripping story, but it’s very real. It gave me a lot to reflect on, as the author and I have similar emotional issues. Now it’s time to go clean out my closet.
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She's written twenty books (e.g., The Accidental Virgin and The Girlfriend Curse), and contributed to dozens of publications including the New York Times, Self, Allure, Glamour, Parenting and Good Housekeeping. Her memoir, Thin Is the New Happy, about overcoming bad body image after 30 years of dieting and self-loathing, was recently described as "Rueful, zestful and surprisingly funny," by the Ne ...more

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