LighterLife book club: Gok Wan, Through Thick and Thin

October 22, 2013 - Living

gokwan_throughthickandthinEach month, we ask our LighterLifers on Facebook and Twitter to read a book for us and share their thoughts. This month, our gang read Gok Wan’s autobiography, Through Thick and Thin.

Gok is fashion consultant, known for his sympathetic style – particularly when helping to make over women who have lost their confidence for one reason or another on his TV show How to Look Good Naked.




farida editFarida Brooker, Wirral

I didn’t know much about Gok Wan before reading this but I found the details of his eating disorder, and his whole attitude towards food really interesting. It must have been so hard for him struggling with his weight when you consider that he was brought up in a restaurant!

I liked the style in which the book was written, and enjoyed the recipes throughout – another indication of how food is both his enemy and yet a friend/ comforter in times of need. It also made me very aware that your perception of yourself has a huge impact on the choices you make in your life – for good or bad.

I found myself admiring Gok when he went to London, because he had low self-esteem, yet he bravely carried on, as he knew it would ultimately do him good. I was amazed to find out that he even lived for a while in the part of London that I’m from!

The overwhelming thread running through the book is Gok’s love and closeness to his family. I had tears in my eyes a few times. He also seems to be very close and loyal to his friends, and I found it touching when he credits them for a lot of his successes, both personal and professional.

Reading the book has changed my opinion of him because all you see on TV is a confident presenter and you don’t realise everything that has happened to get them. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans and non-fans alike.

Diane and GOK1 editDiane Jenkins, Cublington

This was an emotional book, with tremendous attention to detail. Clearly, Gok had a very loving and caring family, but it seems that they often used food to show love, which had consequences for Gok.

He describes being an overweight young boy, embarrassed at school because of his weight, yet at the same time really wanting to be noticed. He had other issues regarding his mixed cultural heritage, which added to his insecurities. There were quite a few contradictions in his thoughts throughout his earlier years – which LighterLifers will recognise as what we call ‘crooked thinking’ in our group work.

When he was older he made the decision to lose weight, and simply stopped eating, perversely enjoying the control he had over his body. Unsurprisingly, he became very ill and whilst he enjoyed this new thin look he thankfully realised that it had to stop.

He eventually turned his life around and seems comfortable with the way things are now. He clearly enjoys being with his family, and he recognises that the love they showed him went a long way to moulding him into the caring and compassionate man that he has now become.

His flair for fashion and knowing how women feel about their bodies has made him the success he is today. Whilst he recognises that he will probably always have insecurities about his weight and will always have to monitor it in the background, he is confident enough now to finally put it behind him and get on with helping others to live their life and be happy in their skins. A very worthwhile read.

debbie burfoot edit polaroidDebbie Burfoot, Birmingham

As a huge fan of Gok’s show, How to Look Good Naked, I couldn’t wait to read his autobiography and it didn’t disappoint me. On numerous occasions I laughed out loud as he’s just so funny. I couldn’t have imagined the troubles he went though as a youngster, but it has made me realise now the reasons why he is so good at understanding the issues women have with their bodies.

I was so surprised to read about all the struggles he faced as a child and as a young man. Gok’s story is so inspirational, covering issues such as childhood obesity, mixed-raced families, eating disorders, and the isolation that we all feel at some point whilst growing up.

Gok has been so honest and open-hearted in writing this book and allowing us all to share his experiences. It’s a lesson to us all that the life of a celebrity is not as perfect as it appears on the glossy exterior, and that even when you feel you can sink no lower there’s always a hope that things will get better. His story definitely proves that whatever trials and tribulations we face, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. A lovely book which I shall be passing on to my mum…well done Gok! Hope he releases another one in a couple of years to update us on what happened next.

Justine Jones, Lancashire

I’ve been on LighterLife for five months and was looking for some new inspiration to push me on my final stretch towards my goal weight.

I found it really interesting to read Gok’s point of view about his journey to becoming slim, and the long-term damage that can be done if you don’t do it the right way. I’ve never experienced anorexia like Gok did, but it really moved me.

Gok mentions revisiting the problems and issues he had with food and said it never actually goes away, even when you’re ‘fixed’. It’s a case of recognising them – which luckily is something I have learnt to do at LighterLife meetings with my counsellor…thanks Carol!

I guess that for the majority of people, we don’t live our lives in the public spotlight – it must be terribly difficult for Gok and celebrities like him to take some of the criticism that’s heaped on them in the media. The empathy Gok has with ‘normal’ people who appear on his shows obviously stems from his own life experience. After reading this, I’d love to have a makeover by him – if you’re reading Gok, I’m up for it!