My latest read is a little hard for me to talk about because it hits so close to home. It’s Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught. In this book, Jamie, who admits that she is the largest girl in her school, writes a column that takes on discrimination against fat people, and fat teenage girls in particular. She also deals with her boyfriend, Burke, who decides to have gastric bypass surgery. It seems to me that Jamie just wants to be treated like she matters. She knows that fat people are surprisingly invisible to much of the world, and she’s determined to change that.
Big Fat Manifesto was a tough book for me to read because it made me relive my own days in high school (and some days in my adult life). For those of you who don’t know me, I am a fat woman (and that’s the first time I’ve ever put those words in print). I deal with the looks and the comments every day. It was hard for me to read about what could have been my own life in high school. No, I didn’t have a boyfriend who went through radical weight-loss surgery, but I experienced nearly all of the other feelings Jamie expressed throughout the course of the book. I won’t go into all of them, but it’s enough to know that reading this book was kind of painful for me.
I hope that many teens will pick up this book and, hopefully, learn something about what it means to be a fat teenager. The snide looks and derogatory comments don’t help anyone and can, in fact, leave scars that last a lifetime. Take it from someone who knows.