January 1, 2012 Book Reviews

Fat Girl

By Jessie Carty

Sibling Rivalry Press 2011


Poet Jessie Carty has done something quite daring in Fat Girl, she has told the bare naked truth about eating, weight, body fat and the bastard child of an unhealthy relationship with food: the distorted body image. Our binging, purging, love and ultimate hatred of food is legendary and just like McDonald’s, it’s everywhere.

Just open any magazine and you will be assaulted with images of anorexic models, designed to make a normal person feel elephantine and gluttonous, let alone those who are genetically and therefore naturally predisposed to having a larger frame.  The self perception gauge is faulty in us all with regard to self image, this much is true but within the scope of a poet such as Jessie Carty, an innate understanding of the human condition flexes it’s muscle to prove that we are stronger than our most powerful urges and that deep inside, we are not what we eat, we are merely people who eat to stay alive.

In Fat Girl, the poems are poignant, funny, shocking and brave. Ms. Carty’s poetic exposure is not titillating or embarrassing, but rather it is liberating, especially to all of us who have ever hidden a chocolate bar or pastry in the bottom of a hand bag under the weight of keys, cosmetics and guilt. I have read many books about dieting and the affects on the female psyche but nothing quite like this has been done. A great deal of thought and feeling went into the architecture of Fat Girl, and in a very clever design all her own, Ms. Carty builds a real female body with each poem, beginning with ‘Woman of Willendorf’: The Artifact’ then adding body parts and soul elements along the way until you have a fully constructed mirror image of yourself on the final page.


Through the art of poetry, Jessie Carty has done for fat girls what Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City, has done for female sexuality; she has not only opened the door to our interior lives but blown it off the hinges.  With a razor sharp wit that cuts to the bone in the poem ‘The Artifact: ‘ Autopsy’ Ms. Carty continues on to shine a heavy duty light on the lies we tell ourselves in ‘I’m Trying Weight Watchers.’ After reading ‘The Banquet’ I wanted to reach into the page, pull the girl out and hold her to me to stop her from sipping the Ipecac tea.   ‘The Greeter’ made me wince with the stark truth that our obsessions isolate us from each other. But the most moving of all, at least for me were two poems that pierced my heart: ‘And Then She Fell’ and ‘ToThe Fat Girl At The YMCA.’ Brutal honesty is the hallmark of both as well as this entire volume of Poetry.  It is to Jessie Carty’s credit as well as her social and emotional genius that her words and vision didn’t stagnate into a ‘been there, done that’ mediocre testament to the average person. Instead she elevates it to the status of a social and spiritual statement of our era and the ramifications of obsession and vanity gone mad. Fat Girl is about our humanity as much as it is about our external needs and desires and for this reason alone it should be on the reading list of every adolescent girl, whether they struggle with weight issues or not. There is a specific insight between the covers of this book, a type of wisdom borne of poetic introspection and self acceptance and one we should all aspire to gain.

I’ve read Fat Girl  five times and it is now my guilty pleasure. It makes me feel so good about being bad and a bit of the food rebel is let loose each time I consume the words. I can guarantee that this book won’t be hidden at the bottom of my hand bag under my keys or cosmetics but right on top with the M&Ms, BBQ Fritos and my shameless love of snack food.


*Jessie Carty is also the editor of the online lit journal Referential and a previous contributor to Tuck. 




  1. Selma January 03, at 22:53

    Jessie is obviously a very talented writer. 'Fat' is an issue that hounds us from those fragile teenage years well into later life. In our forties our weight appears in places it didn't before so my friends and I are finding ourselves saying:'I won't have that piece of cake because of where it ends up.' It's not fair that we feel so bound by food. When I was younger I believed it was mostly men pushing and pushing for women to be thin but I have come to the conclusion that it is actually women a lot of the time. That disturbs me. I know a woman who is ripped to shreds by her peer group if she puts on so much as five pounds. That isn't right. Then there are those situations where a 'normal' weight guy has a 'heavier' girlfriend and after a few beers his mates can be heard wondering how he could sleep with her because she is fat. I don't see it written anywhere that fatness and sexuality can't work together. In fact, I would have thought voluptuousness woulod be desirable. As you can see, I have thought a lot about this situation (I like cake...) and I applaud you Jessie, for writing about it. Congratulations on your book. I wish you every success with it. Excellent review, Val.

    • Administrator January 04, at 10:53

      I agree with you Selma, that women do this to each other more than men do it to us Selma. Ultimately, we do it to ourselves. It's vanity and it's encouraged everwhere, a very difficult encroaching monster to fight because of low self esteem many suffer. For me, this obsession is particularly disturbing because in the self absorption many court daily the thing that few consider is gratitude for having good at all! There are so many children on this planet starving to death while we stand in front of a mirror like Narcissus. The entire balance is skewed and it all has its root in our disconnection from empathy and our humanity. Too much 'self' and not enough 'us' will destroy any group and it starts in the mind. If we are having cake, I want double chocolate with fudge icing please! :) And yes, Jessie is one helluva talented writer and so are you!

  2. Debbie January 02, at 23:45

    I will look for this book. Val, you simply must let us know when your own book comes out.

    • Administrator January 02, at 23:58

      Hi Debbie! So good to see you here reading :) You will love Jessie's book she is a damn good writer and totally understands the weight issues and the female psyche. Also, she is funny as hell. I will not only let you know when it is out but I will be signing one of the first copies and taking it to you. :) Your visit means so much to me. hugs

  3. jessie carty January 02, at 00:25

    You honor me with this review! Fat Girl salutes you but would have gone for the bbq fritos instead if the chetos :)

    • Administrator January 02, at 02:24

      Your book and your talent honours us all Jessie, never doubt that for a second! :) I agree, BBQ fritos it is. ;)


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