Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Weight Expectations

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Weight Expectations

Article excerpt

Byline: KATIE LAW

NAV A EL GAZING: ONE WOMAN'S QUEST FOR A SIZE NORMAL by Anne H Putnam (Faber, [pounds sterling]12.99) KATIE LAW WHEN Anne Putnam was 16 years old and tipping the morbidly obese scales at 290lb, she read an article about bariatric surgery in the New Yorker magazine that would change her life. It was 2001 and gastric bypass procedures were relatively new, but Putnam, a Californian with an unhealthily large appetite, knew immediately that such an operation was "the Holy Grail I never knew to search for". She hoped among other things that it might mean "that maybe someone normal could love me some day".

So both she and her father, who was also dangerously overweight, agreed to have gastric bypass operations simultaneously, Dad, an otherwise successful businessman, obligingly forking out $25,000-plus for each operation. Putnam was told that the result of her surgery would mean that she could never eat sugary or fatty foods again and that if she did, or ate more than a "small meal" at one time, she would throw up. In other words, the ideal mental state for staying slim would be physically, brutally enforced on her.

In the following year, she lost more than 100lb, leaving her with great sagging flaps of loose skin which she has since had cut off during a series of cosmetic operations, leaving her arms, legs and stomach ridged with long scars instead. At the same time, her initial resolve to steer clear of sugary foods weakened and much of her time seems to have been spent throwing up in bathrooms, with her weight also creeping up again.

During this period, Putnam was studying English at Washington University, behaving like any other student, at times introspective and depressed but clearly bright, hardworking, ambitious, with good friends and managing to pull occasionally in spite of her severe hang-ups about her body. …

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