Published by University of Nebraska Press
Publication date: October 1st 2012
Marina Rubin is overweight by about 65 pounds. She has reached the point well past doctors, diet plans, and pills, and is ready for extreme measures, so she signs up for 3 months at a weight loss clinic. It’s a retreat called The Reeds run by a man known only as Professor. In exchange for paying enormous sums of money, obese people like Marina are treated to psychological abuse about being fat, starvation level diets and almost constant exercise. There’s even a special room called Clockwork Orange, where clients are exposed to visual stimuli and barring the proper response are given mild to medium shocks through their feet. There is no privacy, much like most rehab centers, in that everything is communal including the dorms. Cameras abound and the mindset is tough love not nurturing.
Who would be willing to go through such abuse? Apparently, in The Weight of Temptation, anyone with enough money and an inability to stop eating. Author Ana Maria Shua, creates this dystopian fat farm but populates it with people and emotions that feel very real. This is an interesting piece of fiction, if only because it is presented entirely from the point of view of the obese, who are, in reality, often silent about their situation. Author Shua’s premise is that food is an addiction and obesity is the outcome but she explores other points of view as well, namely, that there is nothing wrong with enjoying food to the extreme of morbid obesity and that intervention is wrong. If you have any opinion about the obesity situation in the world then this is challenging reading. Much of what is considered emotional abuse by the Professor sounds logical and necessary to anyone who has not faced addiction but the feelings of the characters also ring true. This is fiction, not a scientific treatise on the causes and treatments for obesity, but as a hot topic in the world today, it is a provocative work and will certainly generate discussion among those who read it.
But while she intensely lived her own small role in the general evolution of humanity and of her individual, personal story, every day, every hour, every minute a huge, central part of her mind was consumed with a ferocious, forbidden desire: the anticipation, anguish, fear, and craving of her next meal.