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Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self    by Frances Kuffel order for
Passing for Thin
by Frances Kuffel
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

An obese person sees and experiences the world from a different perspective than a thin person does. Obese people are treated differently and typically do not have the self-esteem and confidence of their thinner counterparts. Experiences are stilted or even absent. Opportunities may be missed because an obese person lacks confidence, or his or her large size prevents action. In her intimate memoir, Passing for Thin, Frances Kuffel shares her extraordinary experience of losing 188 pounds, after spending forty-two years extremely overweight.

Kuffel's compulsive overeating started as a young child when she would secretly eat whenever the opportunity arose whether she was hungry or not. Childhood turned into adulthood and Kuffel muffled her feelings and dealt with her stressful job as a New York literary agent by eating. While she had friends and loved ones, she lacked intimate relationships with men and her dating life was nonexistent. She simply felt unattractive and believed that others found her undesirable. Kuffel admits that even she felt disdain and distaste for fat women.

A scary white-water rafting trip with friends turned into an exhilarating experience (after they squeezed her into the life jacket) for Kuffel. It made her want more from life. She began to crave life experiences rather than food. The rafting trip, The Truth About Cats and Dogs movie (starring an underdog, less than perfect heroine) and her sudden realization that her food addiction mirrored a close friend's addiction to alcohol, spurred Kuffel into action and she launched herself into what she refers to as her 'Departure from the Planet of Fat.' Her memoir is refreshing in that there is only a small discussion of the diet plan that helped her to transform herself into a thin person.

Kuffel's main message, which she clearly imparts, is that people can change with a strong amount of honesty, willpower and commitment. Her own weight loss empowered her to delve into new relationships and to leave her stressful job. She utilized a 12-step program to see her through a journey which she relays with humor and wit. Experiences like a trip to the gym or a first date are things that thin people take for granted, but are major events for someone who has been obese for decades. Since she has been on both sides of the fence, Kuffel's memoir is touching and unique. She can relate to those who struggle with obesity or have simply 'given up' and accepted their weight and size.

This is a unique, well-written memoir, honest and forthright. Kuffel gives an intelligent and at times comic, bird's eye view of her life as an obese person. Reading about her weight-loss transformation makes you want to cheer her on. Passing for Thin will inspire those with eating disorders and weight problems, and will make thin people pause before they judge an obese person.

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