Jen Larsen always thought that if she could only lose some weight, she would be unstoppable. She was convinced that once she found a way to not be fat any more, she would have the perfect existence she'd always dreamed of. When diet after diet failed, she decided to try bariatric surgery, and it worked better than she ever could have dreamed: she lost 180 pounds. As the weight fell away, though, Larsen realized that getting skinny was not the magical cure she thought it would be and suddenly, she wasn't sure who she was anymore.
Stranger Here is the brutally honest, surprisingly hilarious story of one woman's journey from one extreme of the weight spectrum to the other, and of the unexpected emotional chaos it created. Insightful and unsparing in her self-examination, Larsen depicts the exhilarating highs and devastating lows she experienced as a result of her weight loss, the incredible joy of finally beginning to look like the image of herself she's always carried inside her head, and the crushing pain and confusion of feeling like a stranger in her own body after losing the weight that has always defined her.
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About the Author
For two years Larsen was the featured blogger at Condé Nast's Elastic Waist. Her columns have also been syndicated on Yahoo!'s Shine Network for Women. She is a contributor to Big Fat Deal, a blog about weight in media and popular culture, and her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, and Emprise Review, and South Loop Review, among other publications. She is obsessed with tattoos as a way to transform your body, and has an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco.
What People are Saying About This
"For all the noise our culture makes about fat and thin and health and perfect bodies, Jen Larsen's voice rises above the clamor, disarming and funny but unflinching, too. Combining stark honesty with generosity of spirit, this story of loss and recovery is like no other."
Wendy McClure, columnist for BUST Magazine and author of The Wilder Life
"An arresting memoir about the author's experience with weightloss surgery.
Larsen initially lied to her mother about the nature of her surgery and didn’t tell her the truth until well after the procedure. She admits that her librarian coworkers 'probably knew more than I did' about the risks and potential complications, and she spread the first payment across three credit cards. When a doctor reprimanded her for gaining, rather than losing, weight before the surgery date, Larsen asked, 'If I don't lose the weight, can you still operate?' She smoked and drank heavily. After her painful recovery, she 'ate whatever I could fit inside me, and suffered for it, and lost weight anyway.' In the hands of a lesser writer, all of these facts could lead readers to feel judgment or disgust. Instead, Larsen's honesty and insight make for a searing account of precisely what it feels like to be fat and to have complicated relationships with food, family and friends. We understand exactly why one would look to surgery as a solution to not only excess weight, but also fear, loneliness and unhappiness. Larsen eventually lost the weight, and she also moved on from her deadend job and her bad relationship. But though her life is measurably better, she still reels from the shock that selfacceptance did not come automatically: 'You lose weight without having to develop selfawareness, selfcontrol, a sense of self. In fact, you go ahead and you lose your sense of self.'
Raw vulnerability and rigorous emotional honesty make this weightloss memoir compelling and memorable." Kirkus Reviews