- Reviewed b y David M. Kinchen
Who knew? We know MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski is a determined, skilled journalist, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She doesn’t give her co-host, Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe a break either, chiding him about his eating habits. Southern gentleman Scarborough, a former Florida congressman, takes his chiding in good grace.
What we Mika fans like is the complicated relationship she has with conservative Scarborough that reminds me of Shana Alexander and James J. Kilpatrick in the wonderful Point/Counterpart segment that was my highlight on “60 Minutes” in the 1970s) didn’t realize is that the slender, soignee Mika has an eating disorder that would cause her to balloon from size 2 to God knows what in a heartbeat.
She comes clean in a book about obesity and its discontents, “Obsession” America’s Food Addiction — and My Own” (Weinstein Books, 256 pages, index, $26.00) that’s a delight to read and full of useful information for those battling obesity — and that’s just about all of us.
In the Introduction, Mika comes right out and asks a question everybody has on his/her mind, if not on his/her tongue: “How does a person who is not overweight write about her lifelong obsession with overeating without sounding like a narcissistic, woe-is-me skinny girl with an overinflated image of herself, particularly to those who share ore obsession with food but happen to be overweight or even obese?”
Her answer: “you can’t. No matter what you say or how you say it, you’re going to sound like a privileged skinny bitch with food issues. Oh yeah, and a TV show. And a woman who was born into a wonderful, prominent family and has a blessed life.”
She goes on at length to acknowledge her wonderful genetic makeup and great fortune, and continues to describe how unfair it is for those who haven’t won the genetic sweepstakes. All right, already, I didn’t stop reading the book when I saw the wonderful portrait of Mika (courtesy of the lens people at NBC Universal) on the dust jacket and I doubt that you will either.
Mika Brzezinski is at war against obesity. On Morning Joe, Mika’s often so adamant about improving America’s eating habits that some people have dubbed her “the food Nazi.”
What they don’t know is that Mika wages a personal fight against unhealthy eating habits every day, and in this book she describes her history of food obsession and distorted body image, and her lifelong struggle to be thin. She believes it’s time we all learned to stop blaming ourselves, and each other, and look at the real culprits—the food we eat and our addiction to it. Nutella, a particular bete noir of Mika’s, is as addictive as heroin.
Mika feels the only way to do this is to break through the walls of silence and shame we’ve built around obesity and food obsessions. She believes we need to talk openly about how our country became overweight, and what we can do to turn the corner and step firmly onto the path of health. So Mika made a deal with her very close friend Diane Smith, an Emmy award winning TV and radio talk show host and author: they would work together on this book and on their personal goals, to help Diane drop 75 pounds and to break Mika’s obsession with staying super thin.
Diane Smith isn’t credited on the dust jacket as a co-author but she does get a “with Diane Smith” contributor one on the title page. Smith is also credited as on the back flap of the dust jacket. Her contributions are perhaps more relevant to the millions of larger women than those of the petite Mika, but both are valuable. At one time Smith had ballooned to 250 pounds — causing her to exclaim she was a linebacker!
As she did in her bestseller Knowing Your Value, Mika has packed each chapter with contributions from notable people in medicine, health, business, the arts, and politics. Singer Jennifer Hudson, the late writer and director Nora Ephron, TV host Gayle King, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and many others open up to Mika about their own challenges and what works for them when it comes to food and diet. It’s time we stopped whispering the F-word (“fat”) the way we used to shun the C-word (“cancer”).
This book—with its trademark Brzezinski smarts, honesty, and courage—launches us into a no-holds-barred conversation with family and friends, in schools and kitchens, in Congress and the food industry, to help us all find ways to tackle one of the biggest problems standing between us and a healthier America.
Note: USA Today had a great interview with Mika on Monday, May 6:
About the Authors
Mika Brzezinski is co-host of Morning Joe, an MSNBC anchor, and the author of the New York Timesbestsellers All Things At Once and Knowing Your Value. She is the mother of two daughters, Emilie and Carlie, and is married to investigative journalist Jim Hoffer.
Diane Smith is an Emmy award winning TV journalist, radio talk show host, and author. The Globe Pequot Press has published six books based on Diane’s “Positively Connecticut” TV series. Diane has been honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism for her outstanding lifetime achievements and contributions to the arts and tourism in Connecticut. In October 2012 Diane was honored by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.
Mika’s website: www.morningmika.com