Not-a-review: A Very Hungry Girl

I wrote yesterday that I was 39 pages into Jessica Weiner’s A Very Hungry Girl (beware: affiliate link!).

I went ahead and finished it last night.

I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed by the book, as it soon began to describe Weiner’s work in far more detail than her personal struggles. It became — to a certain degree — more about “stuff” than “people”, even though her work as a writer, director, and performer of motivational works is very much about people. But we went from a nitty-gritty view of her world and the people around her to a 1000-foot view of her work. Even the occasional mention of her struggles with eating didn’t really return us to the trenches.

As I wrote yesterday, I went into the book without many expectations, but I found I’d built them rapidly within those first 40 pages. I expected a story about the author more so than about her work.

The very end of the book contains bits of guidance toward leading a fuller, more satisfying life, for varying definitions of those words. Weiner repeats advice I’d heard from my own therapist — you can’t live well avoiding your emotions and problems. The only way to get past them is to go through them.

That’s hard. That’s something I still struggle with, in part due to the fact that one of the key people I talk to about my issues — WO — has such a different life history than me. It’s hard to be emotional about an experience when you’re struggling just to relate the basic concepts and to deal with someone else’s shock about the fact that traumatic things happen to real-live people.

We are a culture so desensitized to violence, sex, sexual violence, and general suffering that I’m rather curious as to how someone who regularly takes in television and movies feels reading the first half of this book. For example, can you regularly watch and find entertaining a show like The Biggest Loser and still feel the pain of the people in the book who are also doing such extreme things to their bodies? Do the people on TBL not seem to be “ill” because they have some doctor’s approval to do what they do to their bodies?