Nursing Book Club
The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson
A memoir of obesity and transformation
Fat people in the U.S. — even those who are only moderately overweight — face considerable scorn and shame, from strangers staring judgmentally if an overweight person dares to eat in public to the doctors whose answer to every health concern is, “Have you tried losing some weight?”
Sports journalist, newspaper columnist and podcaster Tommy Tomlinson was on a whole other level. Weighing well over 400 pounds with a BMI of 60.7, Tomlinson qualified as morbidly obese. “I’m 6 foot 1 inches tall. My waist is 60 inches around. I’m nearly a sphere,” he says at the beginning of his new book, The Elephant in the Room. “Those are the numbers. This is how it feels.”
Elephant is a memoir about how Tomlinson reached that level of obesity and what he set out to do about it. It is also a frank and funny account of the headaches his size has presented in his daily life. Tomlinson’s shirt size was 6XL (XXXXXXL), which is only available online or from a handful of big and tall men’s stores. Whenever he left home, his wife Alix (who couldn’t put her arms around him) had to scout ahead to find chairs or other furniture that would support his weight. He was always afraid of crushing people if he stumbled and fell on them.