by Wendy McClure
by Sheri Boggs
She had me at "herring."
Specifically, a recipe card from the 1970s for something called "Mock Herring Salad" with the comment underneath "Mock Herring Salad all you want but it'll never cry. You, on the other hand, have to eat this sh**."
It could be said that Wendy McClure, children's book editor, occasional karaoke fiend, founder of both poundy.com and candyboots.com, is fascinated with Weight Watchers. But not in any drippy, creepy sincere kind of way. She's drawn to WW the way one is drawn to Eisenhower-era stag magazines, say, or Paris Hilton. In I'm Not the New Me (which contains eight such hysterically awful full-color recipe cards as "Mock Herring Salad"), McClure documents how she, a cynical, single Chicagoan of a certain size, decided to lose weight -- and to do so with the help of a multi-million dollar corporation and their system of points, meetings and rewards.
McClure's take on Weight Watchers is dead-on. She mocks things like the "I Lost 5 Pounds!" bookmark even while secretly wanting one and the achievement it represents. She also describes her mother's battle with obesity even while begging for her mom's dusty old set of recipe cards so that she can post them - with snarky commentary - on her Web site.
Of course, I'm Not the New Me is about a lot more than dieting, and McClure - who also writes for the Web site Television Without Pity - is an intelligent, wisecracking guide not only to the mysteries of Weight Watchers meetings but also to the weird void that exists between People You Know on the Internet and what they're like in real life. Most tellingly, she punches through our collective love affair with the Weight Loss Fairy Tale: i.e., girl loses weight, girl finds self, girl meets amazing guy who appreciates who she is, inside and out. (Although in these tales, of course, the inside hardly matters anymore -- not when the outside is so fabulous.) For McClure, there is no "new me," and she's brutally honest in depicting her own confusion and struggle when her life doesn't turn out the way she thought it would when she's 40 pounds lighter.
As far as memoirs go, this falls into the more contemporary confessional vein. At a certain point, you start looking at your own life in memoir-speak and thinking, Hell, I could do this. But why, when McClure does it so much better and so much funnier?
To see the Weight Watchers cards, visit www.candyboots.com.