Camryn Manheim, a star of ABC's The Practice, has chronicled her experiences growing up fat in a new book Wake Up, I'm Fat. The title is taken from the name of her 1995 one-woman show in New York.
CBS News Mark McEwen spoke with her about her views on weight in our society.
Camryn Manheim is happy to be making a positive impact in the lives of so many women who do not feel comfortable with their bodies.
I am very proud to be the woman out there holding the torch for self acceptanceÂ…From the letters and response that I get, I feel like I really am making a difference," she says.
Her book is a funny memoir of growing up, and struggling with her weight. "The book is my journey from going from victim to victor. It is often very sad, because you cannot tell the stories of growing up fat in America without talking about some of the real cruel and tragic events that happened. it's also very funny because I see the world through fat-colored glasses," she says.
"I have a sarcastic and cynical view of things," she says. "But also, I hope, if I did it right it's inspirational," she says.
When asked how she learned to appreciate who she is, Manheim says the choices lay between trying to change her appearance and learning to love herself. "You can destroy your spirit because you hate yourself so much. Or you can learn to love yourself just the way you are," she says. Unfortunately, she admits, she had to go through the self-hate phase before she found self-acceptance.
"I tried to destroy my spirit. I hated myself for being a fat girl. I tried to change myself, which I never was successful at. I was left with the most difficult option, to love myself the way I was," she says.
Of course, that was not an easy task. "It was years of struggle and trying to understand where I fit in on this planet, years of soul searching and I came up with a good plan for myself, and I share it in the book," she says.
So where is Mainheim in the self-acceptance movement? "My platform isn't acceptance as much as it is that life should be easier for large people," she says. "When you are larger you can't find clothes. You get overlooked in every arena of life."
Mainheim thinks some beauty and fitness industries are selling an ideal that most people can't achieve. "If we all woke up and said, I like this body, it will do me just fine, the nation's economy would collapse," she proclaims.
Mainheim, of course, has a different ideal in mind: "I don't know what happened: 100 years ago, women like me were considered glorious, powerful, goddesses. I would like to rewrite history, go back to the time. So I started with the book and I'm hoping to make inroads," she says.
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