Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude by Carol Lay Review


There are some great comic book memoirs out there: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Epileptic by David B., Stitches by David Small, the work of Harvey Pekar, James Kochalka, Jeffrey Brown, Julia Wertz, and on and on. They are books about discovering your sexuality, dealing with life-changing diseases, finding humour in a bleak world and struggling with addiction. And then there's The Big Skinny by Carol Lay, a book about how the author lost 35 pounds.

Lay talks about how she has always been overweight for most of her life and been unhappy about it, and how she came to lose it by obsessively counting calories. That’s it. It’s Lay overhyping (in very unfunny ways) her eating (she was 160 pounds, hardly mammoth) and then ending with, "and then I realised you have to count your calories if you're going to lose weight". Alright. Still super bored. Uh oh, here comes crazy! 

She literally writes down every single thing she eats then works out the calories it contains then adds it up in her food journal... she buys scales that calculates weight to 1/10th of an ounce! Does anyone need to know their weight to that precise a measurement? It just seems an excessive and scarily obsessive method of losing weight or maintaining it. I suppose it works for Lay but what a crappy way to live.

The worst part of all is the lack of variation in the book. I thought it'd contain wry, funny anecdotes and it doesn't. The artwork is appealing but Lay herself isn't and it's no wonder when she introduces a man into the story she does so by calling him "my future ex-husband" or "my future ex-boyfriend". Who would want to be around a woman staring at a dish of carrots on scales pondering how many calories it contains with a pad and pencil as if it were the cure to cancer?

I gave up on the book around page 30, I couldn't take any more of Lay's irritating personality (I flicked through the rest of the book to see if it improved or whether I missed anything important but it’s just the same crap over and over). The book is dull as dishwater, and over half of it is recipes that Lay likes - yup, half of this comic memoir is fucking recipes! 

Here’s the opening scene of the book in which Lay goes to a dinner party, thin, greets the hostess who remarks on her appearance: "How did you lose the weight?" Lay: "By calorie counting and exercising" (Hostess smiles in silence and then dashes off). Lay presents this as if the hostess were afraid of the pure honesty of her answer but I think that having read some of the book that she ran away because Lay is so insufferably boring she went off to find someone with a personality!

The Big Skinny may be the most trivial and least interesting comic book memoir I've ever come across. Do not bother.

The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude

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