Although many people struggle with their weight, few have been overweight all their lives. This book tells us exactly what it’s like to have been the “Fat Girl.” A memoir written by Judith Moore, it’s a haunting story that goes deep into the pain, shame, humiliation, and suffering of a person labelled as fat. Although she claims from the get-go that this isn’t a sob story, nor is it an exploration of why she had a weight problem, but from reading her story it is clear she suffered from an emotional hunger.

Rejected by her mother before she was even born, and abandoned by her father soon after, she did not get a good start in life. To make matters worse, she inherited her father’s body type, a man who was obese for much of his life. Her petite mother, whose dreams of becoming a famous singer were interrupted by Judith’s arrival, was repulsed not just by her daughter’s figure so opposite to her own, but by the fact that she reminded her of her ex-husband. Judith suffered terrible physical and psychological abuse at the hands of her mother, whose own mother was a difficult and critical woman. Her lack of love, warmth and acceptance led her to seek comfort from food. However, she also learned to hate food, as her mother put her on one failed diet after another. At times, her hunger was so severe that she began chewing on her own fingers to soothe herself.

As a child, she was teased mercilessly and developed few friendships. This rejection only led to more pain and isolation, and she never developed the social skills necessary for happy relationships. Her childhood was lonely, empty and she was filled with longing for love and acceptance. Her emotional hunger was bigger than her appetite.

Her weight was really just the outward manifestation of her emotional hunger. Partly due to genetics, but also partly a way to cope with her unhappiness, emptiness and need for human connection. This poignant story cuts straight to the heart of what it feels like to carry extra weight, both on the inside and the outside, all your life.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how a child struggles with weight. It can be difficult to read, as the author’s style is very direct, dealing with raw emotion. It will leave you feeling sad, angry and shocked. But I promise you will never look at another “fat girl” the same way again.