Last month I was lucky enough to be offered an advance copy of Monica Parker's new memoir, Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society That Loves Thin.
You can read my review, here.
And then all the stars aligned and I was even more lucky to be able to talk to woman herself about her new book.
What follows is my interview of the lovely Monica Parker.
Fashion for Giants: What prompted you to write Getting Waisted?
Monica Parker: After living in LA for years, we moved back to Ontario and when that first winter struck, I didn't want to go out in that! That led me to realize that I now had time to write and so I started writing. It didn't actually start out as a book, it started as a one woman play, Sex, Pies & A Few White Lies. The success of that play led to a speaking career and eventually to writing the book.
FFG: How do your friends/family feel about being written about?
MP: My friends are great and I say as much in the book so no problems there. And both my parents are dead so they don't get a vote (laughs), but I believe they'd be proud & wouldn't have minded being used as material because they both loved me so much & believed in me. Really, the only person I was sort of hard on was my sister. She is still alive, but said whatever you want, whatever you need to do is fine. Especially after I explained that I was writing from my twelve year old self's point of view. I did purposefully exclude my son after a certain age because his life is his life and his stories are his to tell.
FFG: Did you ever feel, or were you ever made to feel, guilty for losing weight?
MP: Yes. People encouraged me to lose weight, saying "you should lose weight to be happier & healthier" but when I did, it changed the status quo. Men were okay with it, but for women I now became their competition. What they didn't realize was that I was always their competition. They just couldn't see it. I have always believed I was attractive, when I wasn't filled with self-loathing. If I can get someone alone for five minutes, they'll see past anything & everything; I'm good company!
FFG: Would you say you're now done with diets?
MP: Yes. I have times when I try to eat clean, but no more diets. I'm just trying to be better at clean eating, eating less and moving more.
FFG: How did you remember all of these stories? Did you have the help of a journal?
MP: (laughs) My son says he now understands the random pieces of paper that were piled up all over the place. Some of the stories in the book are stories that I had told so often that they are a part of my lore. But, I am also a writer so when I think of something, I write it down. These stories were from notes I wrote down on scraps of paper and even napkins.
When it came time to write, I covered a queen-size bed with years of notes and then used different colored markers to annotate them. It's maybe not the most scientific process, but it worked!
FFG: You're also an actor; do you prefer writing or acting?
MP: They are very different but if I had to choose I'd say writing is by far my favorite. When I'm writing, I get to play in my own sandbox, coming up with all the ideas and making all of the decisions. Acting is more collaborative which can be good or bad, depending on the project. Producing and writing are my two favorite things. I especially like producing because I am a decision-maker so I like making those decisions.
FFG: Is it easier or harder today to be a non-traditional actor in Hollywood?
MP: Oh, it's easier. Women have changed so much. They are much more demanding that they be given a place in the world. Luck does play a role in Hollywood success, but if you have some level of chutzpah you can make your own luck. It's still a stacked deck in favor of the genetic lottery winners, but yes, it's better now. Especially now with such a great movement towards being okay as you are. It's evolving with great people like Melissa McCarthy, Adele, Oprah, Ellen. I think the American public is having is forced down their throat and more welcome it than don't.
FFG: I loved reading Getting Waisted; any chance you have any other books in the works?
MP: Yes, there is a totally another book. This was my first, but I love taking what I think and putting it into a book.
Monica went on to explain that although there are now constant conversations about diversity, she doesn't feel there is enough discussion about body diversity. Her mission is to bring that topic to the table. Like her book, Monica is warm, funny and smart. I loved talking to her as much as I loved reading her book and I think you, Reader Friends, would enjoy Monica as well.
That's why I'm giving one lucky reader, though US/Canada only, the opportunity to win a free copy of Monica's book, Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society That Loves Thin. To enter, please just leave a comment below indicating you're interested and provide a valid email address. I'll choose a winner on Tuesday, April 15th.