Book Review: Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers


In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.

From the blurb.

Would I call this “wildly entertaining”? In a word, no.

However, I was interested in this book from the get-go. I’m a devotee of Jillian Michaels and Gwyneth Paltrow, while still craving (tee hee, I’m so funny…) Chrissy Teigan’s recipes and dreaming daily of nachos. Balance, sure, but it’s not always that easy. Weight and food and body image – they are all wrapped up in the fabric of my every day life, and sometimes, they take over. So it’s natural that Waisted intrigued me. The premise – a weight loss documentary gone wrong – seemed right up my alley.

I wish I could say the execution lived up to the premise. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what went wrong here, but for me, I didn’t buy that Randy Susan Meyers had ever struggled with her weight. I could be way off base, and I haven’t searched for any interviews to ascertain either way, because the proof is in the pudding so-to-speak, and this novel felt like it was written by a woman of average weight.

From the scene where the women’s bodies are described, along with their heights and weights, everything was just… off. I’m not sure if Meyers did her research but the height to weight ratios didn’t add up. A 5’2” woman who weighs 178 pounds is not going to look obese. I remember reading a mystery once where the author had the heroine pulling out her hair at the idea of being over 120 pounds. I DNFed that shit because no thanks. This novel reminded me of that. I mean, come on, one of the heroines is like, 5’10” and weighs under 195!

Rest assured, I am NOT saying these women might not struggle or feel like crap or want to lose weight, etcetera. But in a world where we’re lectured constantly about the “obesity epidemic” and fat shaming abounds, I find it very hard to believe that these very, very average women would be the subjects of an extreme weight loss documentary. We’ve all seen The Biggest Loser – TV sells itself on being OTT. I’m not sure if Meyers didn’t want to deal with heroines that couldn’t lose enough to be considered “normal” (heavy quotation marks implied) by the book’s end, or if she honestly thinks that the weights / heights she mentioned are reasonable for this sort of endeavor.

The novel is told from two viewpoints, but I couldn’t see much difference in the narrative voices. One of the husbands is such a colossal prick that I was shocked no one had set him on fire by the end of the book. Not to mention, the whole ‘message’ just felt super … icky. The women dabble in drugs pretty heavily to lose weight, and the ramifications of this is never touched on or discussed? One daughter cries because her mother doesn’t emphasize her beauty enough (she’s relentlessly described as “thin as a pin” and “a wispy waif”, gag me), another’s mother is an absolute monster and this is treated as endearing, and the much-touted “revenge” is extremely muted to the point of being nonexistent.

By the conclusion, the emphasis is back on who’s gained weight and who’s lost, and the examination of culture, beauty norms and body image that I was waiting for never arrives. There’s no feeling of growth or empowerment (besides one small scene that I enjoyed around the dinner table), and no realizations about unhealthy behaviours or patterns. This novel had so much potential to unpack, and for me, it fell short of true bravery in the telling.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I appreciate the chance to read, as always!