Cover image for Wake up, I'm fat!
Wake up, I'm fat!
Manheim, Camryn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Broadway Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 289 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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PN2287.M284 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Thankfully, Camryn Manheim has never played by the rules. Her fierce determination to defy the beauty myth, the naysayers, and casting stereotypes has resulted in one of today's most remarkable and unique Hollywood success stories. Her groundbreaking role as Ellenor Frutt on television's hottest drama, The Practice, has won her an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award--victories that are the culmination of decades of hard work, perseverance, and battles fought with her parents, lovers, the establishment, and herself. In this inspirational memoir, Camryn chronicles her journey from a self-hating, "overweight" teenager who desperately wanted to fit in, to a self-loving, fat activist who is proud to be a misfit. Wake Up, I'm Fat! shares her intelligent, candid, poignant, and often hilarious stories of being fat in a society obsessed with being thin. Camryn takes us from her days as a motorcycle-riding hippie in Santa Cruz to her enrollment at New York University's prestigious school of drama--where Pulitzer Prize-winning Tony Kushner broke the unspoken theater rules of size and cast her in the role of the ingenue--and finally to Hollywood, where she dispelled the fallacy that large women can't be portrayed as sensual, sophisticated, and confident. Camryn's endearing honesty, sass, and razor-sharp wit will appeal to all those who have ever felt like outcasts or yearned to make peace with their bodies.

Author Notes

Camryn Manheim is an actor, activist, writer, and playwright who rides a Honda CB650, and whose current role as the smart, passionate, combative attorney Ellenor Frutt on ABC's The Practice earned her an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress in a drama. Her film credits include Happiness, Romy and Michelle's High School Reuion, The Road to Wellville, Eraser, Mercury Rising, and Wide Awake. She holds a master's degree in acting from NYU and is proud to have performed in most of New York's off-Broadway theaters, winning an Obie Award and an Encore Award for her performance in Craig Lucas's Missing Persons. In 1994 she brought her acclaimed one woman show, Wake Up, I'm Fat!, to the Joseph Papp Public Theater. She divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, but is registered to vote in New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Manheim, an Emmy Award^-winning television actress (ABC's The Practice), details her lifelong struggle with weight in this refreshingly blunt, charismatic tale of self-loathing, self-exploration, and ultimately, self-acceptance. Overweight since the age of 12, Manheim has endured quite a bit of fat-related horror, and she details it in quite fascinating detail, with an eye not so much toward revenge but toward setting the record straight--that this is how society treats the overweight. Her parents openly expressed their disapproval of her size, and at one point (when she was a bit older) her father even encouraged cigarette smoking as an appetite suppressant. She also details her life and weight problems during high school, the discrimination she faced as an acting student at NYU, relationship problems, a brief fling with speed and diet pills, and the cutting comments, innuendo, and thoughtless remarks that society at large often feels free to make to overweight people. It has a happy ending, though; just as she finds peace and self-acceptance, her career hits the big time. --Kathleen Hughes

Publisher's Weekly Review

"This is for all the fat girls!" Manheim proclaimed, as she hoisted up her 1998 Emmy statuette for all the world to see. The award for her work as Ellenor Frutt on the television drama The Practice was also sweet recompense for a lifetime of fighting prejudice about her weight, of coming to terms with her insecurities and of feeling that she had finally made her parents proud. Manheim's passion and honesty are evident throughout her accessible narrative. No subject is off-limits, from family conflicts to professional discrimination, from her sexuality to what goes on behind the scenes at the Emmys. Always irreverent, witty and compassionate, Manheim talks openly of her experiences as a fat teenager dealing with her family's disapproval of her weight and of using drugs, including crystal meth, to keep her weight down and gain acceptance with her peers. She details her struggle to become an actor, of standing up to prejudice among drama teachers and directors and of demanding more realistic portrayals of fat women through her characters. In the end, her size has helped shape her politics and feminism: "My fat... taught me not to be average, not to conform, not to go quietly. It made me a fighter." Not just for all the fat girls, Manheim's story holds appeal for everyone who has ever let insecurity hold them back from realizing their dreams. Agent, Alexander Smithline of Vigliano Associates. $100,000 ad/promo; author tour; 22-city TV satellite tour; 20-city radio satellite tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Emmy Award-winning actress Manheim wants you to know that she is fat and proud of it. Manheim is an "in-your-face" advocate for fat acceptance who practices what she preaches by challenging standards of beauty in her life and work, as evidenced by such seemingly small but significant battles as choosing her own wardrobe for her on-screen portrayals. An offshoot of her one-woman show, Manheim's biography chronicles her personal struggle to come to terms with her own self-image. From her formative years in California as a typical teenager traumatized by body type, to her self-loathing as a vibrant (and strident) acting student at NYU, to her "backlash" in the form of critically acclaimed performances on stage and screen, hers has been a quest for self-acceptance. Manheim is opinionated and raucous, charismatic and convincing. Her confrontational style is abrasive, at times shrill, and not for the fainthearted. But she gets her point across in anecdotes that are alternately hilarious and harrowing. You'll emerge from the experience firmly ensconced on the side of the author. Recommended for celebrity biography collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/99.]ÄJayne Plymale, Aiken, SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Foreword by Rosie O'Donnell Tucking. There. I said it. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? I tucked once. I'll never forget it. It was 1982, "An Evening at the Improv" hosted by Cicely Tyson, and there, on national television, you could see it. The unmistakable line of the top of my pants as my shirt discreetly disappeared below. I had tucked. Not only had I tucked, I garnished the entire experience with a belt. Shocking, but true. For most people, tucking is a nonevent. But for those of us who tend to the round, it isn't so simple. To tuck or not to tuck? That is the question. It comes loaded with issues of self-perception and self-acceptance. Camryn Manheim is a tucker--a proud and consistent tucker. To me, her tucking is emblematic of her journey to be defined and, most important, to define herself on her own terms. In her hands, tucking is a celebration. Wake Up, I'm Fat! is the work of a loud and independent spirit that ultimately refused to be constrained by shame. The push-pull of weight as an armor or albatross, the internal deals and monologues, the yearning to be on the inside while eternally feeling on the outside are explored with a courageous honesty. We see her struggle to shed the layers of self-loathing and replace them with a sense of her own value. We see her slowly accept herself. The story here is of a heart, mind, and soul that learned they deserved to be held in equal measure to their external package--no matter who or what said otherwise. The achievement of that exquisite balance is exhilarating and inspiring. In short, a great read. I watched Camryn win her first Emmy Award and, along with millions of women, cheered as she dedicated it to "all the fat girls" out there. When she asked me to write the foreword to this book, there was no way I could refuse. Camryn Manheim is a compassionate maverick. She built the bandwagon and she is pulling it. I, for one, am jumping on. --Rosie O'Donnell Author's Note For most of my life I was waiting for my life to begin. When I was ten, all I wanted was to be thirteen . . . so I could finally be a teenager. When I was thirteen, I was just waiting to be sixteen . . . so I could drive. Then I was waiting to be eighteen . . . so I could vote. Then I had to wait three more years to be twenty-one . . . so I could drink. When I was twenty-one, I was waiting for college to be over, so my life could finally start. And then there was graduate school, and life certainly couldn't start there. And then I was twenty-eight, thinking now my life can finally start. But then another year passed and I was twenty-nine, waiting for a great apartment, then I was thirty and waiting for a great job, and then I was thirty-one and waiting for a great boyfriend so my life could finally start. Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. All my life I was waiting for my life to begin, as if my life were somehow way up ahead of me, and one day I would just arrive there. I've wanted to write a book for ten years now, but I was waiting. Waiting to be thin, so I could write about what it was like to be fat and how I emerged the righteous champion: the conqueror of my fat! But a few years ago I finally realized something. My life was not way up ahead of me. I was standing smack dab in the middle of it. In fact, I was standing on the corner of "Life" and "You better get going, Camryn," and the way I saw it, I had two choices: I could either cross that street or just keep waiting for a few more years of green lights to go by. I no longer wanted to be a bystander, a spectator watching my life unfold. I wanted to be the writer, director, and star of my story. And so, in August 1993, I began work on my one-woman show, Wake Up, I'm Fat! Despite that chronic, nagging feeling that I had nothing particularly special to offer, I realized that there was one area in which I was an expert. I knew every nook and cranny of what it was like to grow up fat in America. And guess what, it's no fucking picnic. To make matters worse, I was cursed with a singular passion for acting. Not astronomy. Not veterinary medicine. Not haberdashery. No, I was in love with acting, a profession that is all too often based on how you look. It didn't matter what an agent or a casting director actually said when they rejected me, all I heard was "You're too fat." This book, however, is not the whiny lamentation of a girl who was never asked to dance (well, maybe occasionally whiny). It is a celebration of ass-kicking. It is my enthusiastic rejection of the beauty myth and a call to arms in the fight for self-acceptance. This is my journey, from victim to victor. The following anecdotes are true. I think. Over the years, after-dinner stories tend to bend and twist and become more colorful and dazzling than they originally may have been. A flourish here, a double entendre there, a wee embellishment for emphasis. Sometimes the truth is drab, redundant, and ludicrous and needs a little decoration or refinement. This has been my greatest challenge: to be precise without boring you to tears, to be honest without making enemies, and to be candid without getting sued. Wish me luck. Excerpted from Wake up, I'm Fat! by Camryn Manheim All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xiii
Author's Notep. 1
Levi's, Lesbians, Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll (not necessarily in that order)p. 5
Myth Americap. 32
The Artist Formerly Known as Debip. 38
If I Can Make It Therep. 44
Parents Know How to Push Your Buttons (because, hey, they sewed them on)p. 72
The Road to Wellnessp. 85
La Cucarachap. 95