Author Wendy Shanker weighs in on life in the
By ALEV AKTAR
DAILY NEWS FASHION AND BEAUTY EDITOR
published on April 7, 2004
Don't call Wendy Shanker hefty, pudgy or stout.
She prefers Fat, with a capital F for fabulous.
"The vaguer the euphemism, the worse it
is," says Shanker, a stylish brunette who
tips the scale at more than 200 pounds. "I'm
not afraid of the word 'fat' anymore. I'd rather
that people say it until it doesn't have the
capacity to hurt."
the fulsome adjective appears on practically
every page in "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life," (Bloomsbury,
April 17, $23.95), Shanker's hilarious and informative
new book about battling the bulge. In it, she
describes everything from her disastrous experience
at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center - she forked
over $9,430 and lost a measly 2 pounds - to unsolicited
comments from smug slimkins. She rails against
the government's ever-changing food recommendations
and how they feed into the "conspiracy" of
weight-loss programs and products that don't
"It's about a lot of experiences I had
related to weight and how it's treated in the
media," says Shanker, who filled a filing
cabinet in her New York apartment with articles,
essays and photos pertaining to flab over the
years. "When it actually came to writing
the book, it gushed."
Henderson, the Maine-based founder of www.curvynovels.com,
a Web site that reviews books with plump heroines,
is a fan of Shanker's writing. "A lot of women these days are
not the perfect size 2, 4 or 6," she said. "I'm
a size 16. There's an appeal to reading about
women who look like we do."
Life writ large
Shanker wasn't always full-figured - oops, Fat.
Growing up in Michigan, her mother carefully
monitored her meals. Then her mom died suddenly
of leukemia, leaving a grieving 10-year-old Wendy
to pack on the pounds. By age 14, she was tallying
points on the Weight Watchers teen program.
began 16 years of "self-loathing and
self-doubt." Shanker writes, "I've
met with seven weight-loss specialists, worked
with three nutritionists and three personal trainers,
tried a dozen weight-loss programs, taken thousands
of pills, joined six gyms, read 31 books, and
spent enough money on weight loss to buy myself
an Ivy League degree."
grossest diet she ever tried was the red beet,
vanilla ice cream and hot dog regimen, promising
a 7-pound loss in three days. "I
still can't eat beets," cringes the author.
Disgusting, but not exactly dangerous. That came
later, when her Weight Watchers meeting on the
upper West Side was held up by masked gunmen.
"For a moment I was confused, thinking
this had to be some sort of dramatic new scare
tactic - like, 'Weight Watchers: Lose Weight
or Die!'" she recounts in her book.
The robbery was enough to turn her off Weight
Watchers. But Shanker didn't stop dieting until
after her stint at Duke. Not only did she have
to put up with morbidly obese older men hitting
on her, but the workouts and classes were about
as slimming as Fro-Yo.
Shanker, 32, practices healthy moderation.
She works out regularly and doesn't beat herself
up if she enjoys a sweet treat. "I'm just
trying to be normal."
For Shanker, that also means fighting back.
She refuses to fly Southwest Airlines - which
makes heavy passengers buy two seats on crowded
flights - or to shop at stores where she can
only fit into the accessories.
And she no longer puts up with rude remarks
Recently, she shared an elevator in her building
with an older lady.
"I take the stairs to stay slim," announced
the woman in a self-righteous voice.
"I take the elevator," snapped Shanker, "to
stay really fat!"
Shanker shares a few fashion tips from her book:
a trademark look. "Some women are
fashion chameleons, but I've always thought there
was something cool about a style signature," writes
Shanker. Hers is a black bob, red lipstick and
clothes that fit. Choose tailored garments
instead of shapeless sacks. It's much more
your favorite features. Shanker wears low-cut
tops that show off her sexy cleavage. Other
women might want to highlight their small waists
or slender ankles.
it in every color. When you find something
you love, purchase it in every color and pattern.
a better bra. A bad supporter can make you
look like you've got four boobs. A good one
can reshape your torso. Go to a real lingerie
store and get fitted by a pro.
accessorize. Stock up on jazzy jewelry, bags
and shoes. They always fit and make outfits
look extra festive. And while you're at it,
get your nails, eyebrows and hair done. Pampering
does wonders for self-image.
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