JEN LARSEN / Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head
"For all the noise our culture makes about fat and thin and health and perfect bodies, Jen Larsen's voice rises above the clamor, disarming and funny but unflinching, too. Combining stark honesty with generosity of spirit, this story of loss and recovery is like no other." -- Wendy McClure, columnist for BUST
The number of weight-loss surgeries performed in the United States has grownsteadily over the years. As a culture, we are fascinated by dramatic weight lossstories and fervently follow along when stars go under the knife. But when it comes to weight loss, there’s a lying fairy tale being told: “The world is a completely different place when you are thin -- when you lose the weight, you will also lose allthe flaws; you will magically become the completely different person you always hoped you’d be.”
Jen Larsen fell for that fairy tale. She thought that if she could only lose the weight,she would be unstoppable. She was convinced that once she found a way to not befat any more, she would have the perfect existence she’d always imagined. When diet after diet failed, she decided to try bariatric surgery and it worked. In a year and a half, she lost 180 pounds, going from 316 to 135 pounds. But as the weight fell away, Larsen realized that getting skinny was not the magical cure she thought it would be -- suddenly, she didn’t know who she was anymore.
Stranger Here is the brutally honest, revealing, and raw story of one woman going from one extreme of the weight spectrum to the other, and how bizarrely alike those extremes can be. From terrified and lonely, in a dead-end relationship and going-nowhere job, to a woman who drastically changed her entire life in order to figure out what she wants, Larsen is insightful and unsparing in her self-examination.
Jen Larsen is a writer and editor living in Ogden, UT. In 2006, she underwent weight loss surgery and lost almost 200 pounds. Six years later she's still trying to figure out what that means in terms of health and body acceptance, but feels lucky to have experienced the full spectrum of weight and size issues on either end of the scale.
For two years Larsen was the featured blogger at Condé Nast's Elastic Waist. Her columns have also been syndicated on Yahoo!'s Shine Network for Women. She is a contributor to Big Fat Deal, a blog about weight in media and popular culture, and her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, Emprise Review, and South Loop Review, among other publications. She is obsessed with tattoos as a way to transform your body, and has an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco.