Til The Fat Girl Sings
Published by Adams Media
Paperback, 271 pages
I picked this book up at the Times Warehouse Sale of Doom for half price but it was damn worth it. It was an absorbing one-sitting read. Here’s what the back of the book says:
“My name is Sharon and I am fat. I think it is important to tell you that I am fat right away because I’m sure you can tell, even though you cannot see me. I don’t blame you for not liking me. After all, not many people do.”
Sharon Wheatley always wanted to be on Broadway but many people were only too quick to tell her she’ll never land a role of any worth. When you’re fat, nothing else you are good at matters. It didn’t matter that Sharon could sing and was passionate about musicals.
But between comfort eating and pursuing the music, Sharon did indeed end up on a number of famous Broadway productions – Les Miserables (Cosette and Eponine), Phantom of the Opera (Madam Firman), Cats (Jennyanydots, The Gumbie Cat) and Avenue Q (Mrs. T/Yellow Bear/ Kate and Lucy).
‘Til The Fat Girl Sings hits close to home because I can pick out many similarities here. I love musicals (but don’t harbour any dreams of Broadway). I know what it’s like to be the fat kid and fattest girl in any given group of friends. I know how boys don’t give you a second glance because you’re fat. I know how it feels to have meaty singing roles given to the pretty girl who keeps screwing up something you can do in your sleep.
It’s a body image-driven world out there, moreso if you plan on being in the entertainment industry.
Sharon writes vividly, tempered with humour, about the kind of stigma that happens when you’re fat. Eventually she does lose the extra pounds and achieve her dreams, but this won’t have been possible if she allowed herself to wallow in self-pity.
People are fat for all sorts of reasons but fixing the problem isn’t as easy as saying “lose a few pounds”. People always talk about health benefits, which are valid and worth paying attention to, but few think about the self-esteem and psychological issues. The years of teasing in school or thoughtless remarks from family and relatives. The years of denial or keeping people at a distance because they can’t possibly love or be in love with a fat person like you.
Why I find this book inspiring? Because it shows that we’re not alone. In the end, we are the authors of our own lives and our own stories.