Fat Shame

Fat Shame

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To be fat hasna€™t always occasioned the level of hysteria that this condition receives today and indeed was once considered an admirable trait. Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture explores this arc, from veneration to shame, examining the historic roots of our contemporary anxiety about fatness. Tracing the cultural denigration of fatness to the mid 19th century, Amy Farrell argues that the stigma associated with a fat body preceded any health concerns about a large body size. Firmly in place by the time the diet industry began to flourish in the 1920s, the development of fat stigma was related not only to cultural anxieties that emerged during the modern period related to consumer excess, but, even more profoundly, to prevailing ideas about race, civilization and evolution. For 19th and early 20th century thinkers, fatness was a key marker of inferiority, of an uncivilized, barbaric, and primitive body. This ideaa€”that fatness is a sign of a primitive persona€”endures today, fueling both our $60 billion a€œwar on fata€ and our cultural distress over the a€œobesity epidemic.a€ Farrell draws on a wide array of sources, including political cartoons, popular literature, postcards, advertisements, and physiciansa€™ manuals, to explore the link between our historic denigration of fatness and our contemporary concern over obesity. Her work sheds particular light on feminismsa€™ fraught relationship to fatness. From the white suffragists of the early 20th century to contemporary public figures like Oprah Winfrey, Monica Lewinsky, and even the Obama family, Farrell explores the ways that those who seek to shed stigmatized identitiesa€”whether of gender, race, ethnicity or classa€”often take part in weight reduction schemes and fat mockery in order to validate themselves as a€œcivilized.a€ In sharp contrast to these narratives of fat shame are the ideas of contemporary fat activists, whose articulation of a new vision of the body Farrell explores in depth. This book is significant for anyone concerned about the contemporary a€œwar on fata€ and the ways that notions of the a€œcivilized bodya€ continue to legitimate discrimination and cultural oppression.... and the TOS Obesity as a Disease Writing Group. a€œObesity as a Disease: A White Paper on Evidence and Arguments Commissioned by the Council of the Obesity Society.a€ Obesity 16 (June 2008): 1161a€“1177. American Medical Association.

Title:Fat Shame
Author: Amy Erdman Farrell
Publisher:NYU Press - 2011-05-02

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