1 Aug

This is probably the worst attempt in YA fiction to deal with body image issues – and I read “Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade”.

Let’s begin with the elephant in the room [pun intended]: The anti-fatty attitude put forward by whichever size-six ghostwriter put pen to paper on this fine piece of YA literature. [did I just call it that?]

In case you didn’t know, Robin “Tubby” Wilson is fat. A fact which must be repeated time and again in this series, like other comments from Captain Obvious, such as “Jessi is Black” and “Winston Egbert was the Class Clown.”

Of course, being fat is a mortal sin that threatens the aesthetic perfection of Sweet Valley, and immediately places one in the category of social pariah. Unless drastic weight loss can be attained, one must endure the company of “wrong-side-of-the-track-ers” like Betsy Martin and Charlie Cashman, or children born out of wedlock in poverty, like Susan Stewart.

Maybe Robin has a medical condition that makes her store fat more easily? Maybe she has a metabolism on the slow side of normal? Or maybe she just has a reasonable appetite and the odd comfort snack when judgmental prudes like Elizabeth Wakefield give her a shoulder pat and a “tsk, tsk”??

But no, instead it must be that young Robin has brought this “sad fate” upon herself, and so in every scene she is chowing down on a chocolate bar, or has an ice-cream sandwich in her fat little hands. Typical.

In the middle of an obesity epidemic in the Western world, I am certainly not encouraging overweight-ness, or criticizing the Dawn Schafers of the world for keeping healthy – but on the other hand, these kind of judgments don’t help anyone [unless of course, you’re a Wakefield and you can now feel AWESOME about yourself.]

Robin unwrapped the chocolate bar hungrily and started munching… Elizabeth looked at Robin dubiously. She was convinced Robin’s heaviness was due to the way she ate – especially if this was typical. Though Elizabeth and Jessica certainly didn’t have Robin’s figure problems, they watched their diets carefully.

Riiighht….so stuffing your face with fries at the Dairi Burger every afternoon is watching your diet carefully?

And lastly, before I leave the soapbox, absorb this hypocrisy from Liz just a few books later in SVH # 35, Out of Control

[Liz] already knew Heather was on a diet, probably so she wouldn’t outgrow any of her glamorous outfits. It seemed to be another symptom of Heather’s vanity.


So, moving on from the BIG issue, let’s get to the meat of the story.Because she is overweight, Robin, naturally, is sad, desperate, and hangs off Jessica, doing menial tasks like dry cleaning just so she can get a glimpse inside the Spanish-tiled world of the Wakefields.

Robin wants to pledge for Pi Beta Alpha, because apparently no high school is complete without a lame sorority that Jessica is president of. Of course, when she’s not using Robin to make herself look awesome, or making fat jokes behind her back, Jessica is coming up with impossible initiation rites that Robin has to perform. Liz wants to give Robin and in because THERE IS NO JUSTICE at SVH. Which is why in every second scene we have Saint Liz admonishing her scheming bitch of a sister and Jessica coming back with gems such as “Maybe if she runs around that track 137 times a day for the next five years, she’ll lose some of that fat?”

First Robin is forced to play volleyball in a bikini, but Jessica is having far too much fun at this game and comes up with the next dare for “butterball”:  Robin has to get a date with Bruce to the Discomarathon. Liz hears the tinkerings of crisis and decides to meddle by bribing Bruce to take Robin to the disco. In exchange she will write up his tennis prowess in the Oracle.

You’re kidding!?

For starters, where’s your journalistic integrity, Lizzie? And, 2] Surely Bruce’s dad or another old-money connection could get him a write-up in the Times or something if he really needed it?

So Bruce takes Robin, but ditches her at the door and asks if anyone else wants to take the “Queen Mary around the floor tonight.” Low blow Patman. Luckily, a dork called Allen Walters is there to give her a pep talk and coerce her back into the dance. [I thought she had the hots for me!? Apparently she switches camps as much as Jessica.]

Oh and in the B-plot, Lila steals silk scarves and other items to get Daddy’s attention, but because she is a FOWLER she gets away with an eyelash bat and a Liz-pat.

On Monday, the Phi Alphas are meeting or whatever it is they do, and the new pledges are being initiated. Suzanne Hanlon is in, because according to Lila her father has a Rolls Royce. Oh joy.

Jessica decides to let Robin down gently [at Casey’s, so at least she can eat away her sorrows]: “Some things are just not meant to be.”


Liz is mad, you guys! After consulting creepy Collins, we get a heartfelt article “Snobbery is Alive and Well at SVH.” Good God.

But worry not, Saint Liz! Our Robin has been busy these last few weeks making Rachel Zoe’s eating habits look normal, beginning the fastest weight loss trajectory in history:

Robin’s plate, usually heaped with French fries and double burgers, now held only lettuce leaves, two tomato slices, and a hard-boiled egg. Elizabeth watched her silently, and when Robin got up to walk away, she noticed it for certain. On the track in bulky sweat clothes, it wasn’t obvious. But now, even in a tent dress, it was: Robin Wilson was losing weight.

Everybody at SVH, even Elizabeth, gradually forgot that there had been a fat and ugly Robin. But Robin would always remember.

Ooh, thank-you for this cautionary tale, Fran-Pasc, I hope Robin thinks about this every night before she goes to bed and never returns to her gluttonous ways!

Now she is thin and a cheergirl Bruce has a hard-on for her [the football team’s very questionable slogan for her is “Robin has us throbbin’] and the she wins Miss SVH by light years. [Didn’t we just elect a Miss SVH in the previous book and it was Jessica? Anyhow….]

I console myself with the fact that at least Robin somehow shook off her desperate persona and developed some self esteem, eventually seeing through Jessica’s schemes and refusing to join Pi fucking Beta Alpha just because she fit their model.

I guess that’s what happens when you stop munching on lard in between meals and become a size six.


[I will be doing one of these for each recap now!]

An oddly dressed young woman [who turns out to be Lila Fowler] was standing in Lisette’s, studying the counters. She was wearing a pair of bright green, skin tight pants and a loose striped blouse that looked as though it could accommodate two people.

[Lila! Have you been shopping with Robin?]

Coming soon: my interview with the very witty Michael Perl! And don’t forget about the TEAM WINSTON T-SHIRT giveaway to be drawn next week!

Also – you can like me on facebook now

And, if Team Winston isn’t cool enough for you, hook yourself up with some Lila merchandise from ShannonSVH’s store:




  1. The one where we heap pity on the fat and the dateless: SVH #74 “The Perfect Girl” « WHAT WINSTON SAW - April 25, 2011

    […] personality is weight dependent. I refer you to the case of Robin Wilson – when she was fat, she was desperate, clueless and annoying. Since her miraculous weight loss, she is a kick ass […]

  2. The one where we heap pity on the fat and the dateless: SVH #74 “The Perfect Girl” | WHAT WINSTON SAW - February 20, 2019

    […] personality is weight dependent. I refer you to the case of Robin Wilson – when she was fat, she was desperate, clueless and annoying. Since her miraculous weight loss, she is a kick ass […]

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