Every week our fake advice column answers a question from a character on Dietland.
My name is Plum Kettle. Recently I’ve been trying to drop enough weight to qualify for weight-loss surgery. It took all I had just to lose a pound this week, and I still have fifteen more to go before I qualify for surgery. I’ve been working as a ghostwriter for an online advice column (solidarity, sister!) at a beauty website called Daisy Chain owned by a big conglomerate called Austen Media. The site’s run by Kitty, a gorgeous red-haired woman with terrifyingly taut biceps, who treats me like shit and has an inflated notion of her own brilliance. I like to write fiction on the side, but it’s not going anywhere, and I don’t date because guys never look at me because, as you probably gathered, I’m fat.
My body, I like to say, is “just a thing I use to move my head around.” My stomach is always empty, and sometimes I hallucinate cartoons of myself floating around on the street for some reason.
But I mean, my life’s not all bad. I have a friend, Steven, who works at a local cafe where I sometimes do baking, and thinks I’m awesome. My mom and I don’t hate each other like most TV moms, and she thinks I’m great no matter what I look like. Plus, I recently had coffee with a cute cop. I’m nervous he might be a fat fetishist, but I can’t help thinking about him. He treated me like a human being (well, except for one fatphobic comment which he awkwardly walked back) and definitely isn’t following me around in his cop car to see where I go.
So that’s the backstory. On to the actual question: A goth girl named Leeta found me and told me to read this book Dietland. Then suddenly I was meeting all these new people who wanted things from me. First there was Julia, the woman who works downstairs at the “beauty closet” at Austen Media. She asked me to help her fight against the “dissatisfaction industrial complex” by giving her the emails of every girl who’d ever written to Kitty. Even though that’s totally illegal and a huge invasion of privacy, I did it.
Then Leeta told me to visit Verena Baptist, the author of Dietland. So I show up to this dinner and it turns out to be a gathering of a group called Calliope, whose goal is to “support women with bold ideas.” I had a strange connection to her—she was the daughter of the people who invented the (totally fraudulent) Baptist program for weight loss that I was put on as a kid. I ended up getting a strange offer from Verena: stop taking the dystopian antidepressant I’m on, “Y,” go through a mysterious program with her that will help me do great things, and get twenty grand at the end of it. It’s her way of making up for what her parents did, supposedly.
So, should I do it? I mean, she’s probably not related to Jennifer, the feminist terrorist group that’s been dropping men accused of rape onto highways and train tracks, or the people who have doxxed the family who owns Austen Media, right? So maybe it’s worth a shot. At the end, I might even have money for my weight-loss surgery.
What do you think?
There is so much going on here! I can’t wait to get a whole season’s worth of letters from you.
First of all, it’s easy for anyone to see that you’re awesome. You’re funny, self-possessed, smart, and a kick-ass baker apparently. And like every wonderful human being, you are beautiful. So my biggest wish for you is for you to recognize that, and stop assuming that nothing good can happen to you because you are fat. (Not that there isn’t fatphobia in the world—there definitely is, starting with how horribly Kitty treats you and the people who heckle you on the streets. But those people suck!)
But let’s move on to your more immediate problem: to go on this plan or not? I think we all know that the happy ending for you would be to be able to live your own life fully no matter what weight you are. Maybe this plan will do that for you! For now, you’re telling yourself it will help you get the money for your weight-loss surgery. And that’s fine. But you should start living your life for one thing, that cop is cute, and you deserve love and happiness no matter your size! To paraphrase Leeta, “You are too smart for the life you think you deserve.”
Is it possible that you think anyone who’s into you might be a fat fetishist because you can’t imagine someone just thinking you’re swell? As for the fatphobic comment, I’m sure this guy has absorbed some of the same toxic cultural notions about fatness that are swirling around in the rest of society–but the fact that he regretted it means that he might be capable of growing.
So, I think you should at least try out Verena’s plan, even though there were multiple unspecified conditions attached to it and in fairy tales that never works out well. I mean, I think it’s clear that the gurus you’ve been trusting so far—the weight-loss clinicians who treat you like there’s something wrong with you—have steered you wrong. Julia may have a few creepy habits like slapping Leeta when they disagree and stealing the PII (personally identifiable information) of underaged girls, but she’s right about the “dissatisfaction industrial complex.”
Also, you should definitely hang out more with the Calliope group because they are hilarious and fun—they were hanging out in the kitchen drinking wine and gossiping. Also with Leeta because she’s funny and I am super into her giant Goth updo and fingerless gloves, even if she is definitely stalking you.
Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it all turns out.
PS. Hate to tell you this, but the cop guy definitely is following you in his car to see where you go. I hope you two adorable kids work it out, though!