Myers plunges into the dark heart of obsession with weight that defines contemporary culture, grown more judgmental and cruel through social media's anonymity and tendency toward extremes. As seven women leave home for a month-long weight-loss program at a remote Vermont estate that will be filmed for "Waisted: The Documentary," they are hopeful, if unsettled by their impulsive decisions. Stumbling off the bus before a building that sports the sign "Welcome to Privation," the women "avoid each other as though their abundance of flesh might transfer from body to body."
The prime protagonists in this harrowing tale are Alice and Daphne, the storytellers. The others make up a Greek chorus, sisters in spirit leaning on the strongest for direction. All are at the mercy of their trainers and the film crew. The heady euphoria of common purpose opens the door to domination, abuse, physical exhaustion and emotional defeat, cameras ubiquitous and intrusive. The women are daily tormented, enduring small portions and punishing exercises, accepting their fate: "In the hierarchy of life, those on the bottom always learn the habits of the upper levels."
As roommates, Alice and Daphne bond in adversity, sharing their private struggles and supporting common home-life experiences, the lifelong dialogue of the overweight. Encased in the unattractive jumpsuits that cling to every bulge, all endure the daily cycle of insult and starvation, sacrifices on the altar of obesity. Eventually, Alice and Daphne spearhead a revolution, exhausted and angered by the suspicion that their trainers are testing how far they will go to lose weight.
From the first chapters, the author captures the emotional terrain of her characters' lives, the self-hatred buried in obsessive thoughts, the subtle messages of disappointed families--mothers--and general dissociation in a world that sees only size. The two new friends reveal the painful litanies of defeat that accompany each day, the familiar barrage of slights and averted looks.
The drama in Vermont, the immersion in a cruel and demeaning exercise program is the crux of Waisted. The insights are profound, adversity a catalyst for change, for a new definition of self. While the women return home with lighter bodies and resolutions for positive change, it is the ordeal in Vermont that leaves a lasting impression: weight and its ability to shape women's lives--"Like Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and Toto rising from the poppy fields in the Wizard of Oz, they awoke."