Jennifer Joyner is Assignment Editor at WRAL-TV in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and also works in radio, among other pursuits. She also published a book entitled Designated Fat Girl: A Memoir. Starting from morbidly obese at 330 pounds, her book covers 16 years of struggle against food addiction, a condition that is not taken seriously by society. There is a video clip online if you want to see Joyner in person. She says of her memoir,
My mission is to help others in the same situation to know they are not alone… and I want the medical community to step up and realize food addiction is a real problem that needs to be recognized and treated effectively.
Diets In Review provides a handy guide to Designated Fat Girl:
* Offers insight into the mind of someone addicted to food
* Gives a look at someone who is morbidly obese overcoming their food obstacles
* Highlights how one woman’s life has been affected by food
* Humor helps to lighten the serious undertone of the book
* Success based on one person’s experience rather than several
* Not a specified diet and exercise plan due to this being a memoir
Oprah Winfrey recommended Designated Fat Girl to her fans, and O, The Oprah Magazine published a helpful list of questions to be considered by reading groups. A few examples of the points they thought worth discussing: the public nature of an individual’s struggle with weight, the fact that fat women don’t want to associate with other fat women; and the myth of the jolly, well-adjusted obese person. Is there too much pressure on the morbidly obese to lose weight through diet and exercise? Is weight loss surgery the “easy way out”? After Joyner had the surgery, why did she experience depression and become dependent on prescription pain meds?
These are the questions that should be asked, and wouldn’t you know it? We located someone who has examined a lot of them. At the top of the page, next to Jennifer Joyner, we also see Beth Sheldon-Badore, aka Melting Mama. (In this standard fat-pants composition, she is one year post-op.) Six years ago, Melting Mama and her husband had weight loss surgery at the same time, and now share the day-to-day task of long-term maintenance. MM is pretty famous online as a go-to gal for questions about this life-changing decision. About her blog, she says,
The goal of this site is to share, realistically and often in a humorous way, what it’s like traveling this thing called life with altered anatomy.
Melting Mama is quite frank about every aspect of post-surgical existence, including the complications of pregnancy after WLS, and the seizures she began to have, which apparently are not unique to her. Because of intractable epilepsy, she now can no longer drive. Despite the difficulty with travel, MM finds it very important to attend anti-obesity events and often is on the program as a speaker. Apparently she’s got what it takes, because readers of the blog help sponsor her appearances. Now, what does MM have to say about Joyner’s book, Designated Fat Girl?
She takes issue with Joyner over the definition of a “cure” for food addiction, because overeating and other inappropriate eating behaviors originate in the brain, not the digestive tract. After gastric bypass surgery, the patient might give up attempting to overeat, because it leads to unpleasant results. But a preference to avoid self-induced vomiting is not quite the same as addiction recovery. MM says,
Like the author, I cannot overeat because I will get ill. But, that isn’t because I am cured. That’s because I prefer not being ill… Many of us chose the bypass because of the nasty effects of dumping, and it’s slap-your-wrist function… Because, it works. It’s a nasty little reminder. It’s not a cure for food addiction. I GUARANTEE YOU THAT 100%.
In fact, it sounds like anyone who has weight loss surgery had better hope for dumping syndrome, because otherwise it’s all too easy to find a way around –to bypass the bypass– and continue to overeat. That seems to be the message that MM wants to get across. In her view, Joyner may have declared a cure prematurely. If she can maintain the weight loss for several years, without developing a transfer addiction, then it will be something to write home about. Melting Mama feels strongly about this:
…I am afraid that some of us don’t know this going in to our weight loss surgery journey — and if we hear that “gastric surgery cured my food addiction” — we’re being sold on something that does not exist… I would never say that I am cured, because the beast of addiction resurfaces in any way it CAN, even if it doesn’t come out a food addiction. Because of this I must remain cognizant that YES I AM LIKELY TO PICK UP A HABIT… Stomach surgery is not going to change what is inherently wrong in your head.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Jennifer Joyner,” WRAL.com
Source: “Designated Fat Girl: A Memoir,” DietsInReview
Source: “Reading Questions for Designated Fat Girl,” Oprah.com, September 2010
Source: “MM Contact, Advertising, Sponsorship + Events,” MeltingMama.net
Source: “‘Designated Fat Girl’ author, tells us that ‘Gastric Surgery Cured My Food Addiction.’,” MeltingMama.net, 11/18/10
Images of Jennifer Joyner and Melting Mama used under Fair Use: Reporting.