Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Fat! Fat Fattie Fat Fat!

Something I want you to think about whilst reading this blog post:
“The outward body is believed to demonstrate inner worthiness” (Lupton 2013: 70)
Think about what this means, and its implications, not only in society as a whole, but within your own life. That’s your homework.

So comes to an end of my independent study so appropriately titled Sociology of the Body. This blog posting is my last post for credit, and has been one anticipated by myself for many weeks (pretty much since the beginning of this whole freaking thing). This post is going to revolve around a lovely things called Fatism. What is fatism you say? Well, quite simply put, fatism involves the discrimination of a person who is overweight (dictionary.com 2012). Essentially what I’m saying here is that fatism is a kind of prejudice. It involves stereotyping, othering, and a plethora of other issues (some of which I will discuss within this post). However, the definition I have provided you seems to be quite generalized, does it not? The definition of fatism is pretty much one of the sole reasons I wanted to explore this shit. Being a blog not only about ED, I whole-heartedly believe that paying attention to other forms of discrimination and cultural issues circulating nowadays is pretty freaking important – especially because of the fact that fatism, the way we characterize fat, the way we portray it, fear it, condemn it, and bash fat people is part of the group of triggers behind what makes body issues (including ED) so prevalent within Western culture today. You’re probably beginning to understand why I waited to write the fat blog – I really believed providing as much education as possible about what influences eating disorders psychologically and physically were in a sense not only the stepping stones to understanding wider issues in society, but kind of acts as the scaffolding to understanding how fatism connects with the media, culture, ED… All of that good stuff. This scaffolding I (hopefully) provided to you will also allow you to more easily form educated opinions about my future postings, or will aid in your future kick-assery in identifying and exposing the mean things advertising and the media presents to us regarding our own bodies and the bodies of others. In the end, you will have a beautiful little house built – full of educated opinions and a form of bad-assery that promotes activism and objective opinions that come from your own mind. 

OK, back to that definition. “The discrimination of a person who is overweight”. That’s easy enough to understand, yep. However, if I have been taught anything useful in my life, I would not be satisfied with that definition. I’m not (so I guess that in effect means I’ve been taught something useful in my life). First of all, what counts as overweight? What IS being fat? What does it MEAN to be fat? Second of all, what is this discrimination you speak of? Where does that come from? What form does discrimination take and how is it perpetuated? These are some of the questions I’m going to explore throughout the course of this post. Essentially the purpose of the fat blog is to explore society’s idea surrounding fat (your opinion may be different, but hey, I’m just teasing out the opinions of the dominant body here) and bring to the surface the consequences of the way fat is being viewed and perpetuated to us through different mediums. Topics I want to touch on include the BMI (and my issues with the BMI), how that leads us into the medicalization of the fat body (viewing it as a medical issue, something to be changed because it is inherently unhealthy to carry some extra poundage), fat as being a lifestyles choice, fat shame and discrimination (through not only the medicalization of being fat, but through television and media). I want to pay special attention to the way we other fat via these forms of discrimination, and how that perpetuates and reinforces our fears and insecurities about how we as a society tend to focus on the idea that our self-worth is directly connected to not only how much we weight, but by the way we look in general. 

In the end, I want to highlight how societal factors characterize having a fat body as a fate worse than death, as if you as a person should want anything else to happen to you rather than experience weight gain. You lovely people have figured out by now that I really dislike leaving you with a post that doesn’t suggest any hope for the future, so by the time I’m through, I’ll touch on some fat activism and talk a little bit about what we can do to combat fatism and be a little more accepting of difference and diversity in a world where the cookie cutter approach to living is the norm. 

Fat – how do we define it?

Fat is an interesting word. I mean, it holds a lot of weight (no pun intended) in everyday conversation and more often than not has a lot of really shitty ideas attached to it. Fat is more often than not viewed in a negative sense. I mean, have you ever heard anyone use the word “fat” as a compliment (excluding the use of “phat”, I’m not gansta’ enough to get away with that one)? 

“Oh my gosh I love your outfit! It makes you look so fat!”, “My, you are looking delightfully fat today”, “Hey! Lookin’ good! Did you gain weight?”.

See what I mean… It looks silly. Having been that person carrying those extra pounds for most of my life, never once had my size been attributed to something positive unless it had more masculine connotations – my large body being attributed with strength. For women, however, fat is a dreaded word, the most feared word in the English language. Want to shut a woman up? Call her fat. I guarantee you will not only get her to stop talking, but you will probably make her cry and cause her to hate on herself for hours afterward. If she is sensitive about her weight, you may just trigger a binging or purging sesh, or you may fuel a relapse into restricted eating or yet another crash diet. That’s not very nice, is it? So you see, fat has a lot of power, and it isn’t a positive power. 

Our definition of fat highlights our obsession with the importance of the physical body. It causes anxiety for numerous people, and is something we are constantly reminded of as a consequence of the lack of ability to control ourselves. Our definition of fat perpetuates all sorts of stereotypes about people concerning their life choices, their activity level, their sex lives… Everything! It is a very pervasive thing, and it isn’t something we can escape. Here in the West, we are constantly reminded of what fat means to us. It’s something we should be on the lookout for, and it is definitely not something we should want to subscribe to.

Now, we define fat in other ways outside of negative reinforcement and media hype. You’ve probably guessed it by now, but we also define fat in very simplistic numerical terms – namely through the use of Body Mass Index, or the BMI. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re fat, this is apparently the way to find out. The BMI, in a sense, is a way the medical field can govern and control bodies, suggesting to us that by assigning a certain number to our height versus our weight we can shed light on not only how out of shape we apparently are, but how important it is to avoid being fat at all costs. Now, medical terminology prefers the term “obese” over fat, but wither way they are talking about the same thing – what they consider to be extra poundage. What’s interesting about this medicalization of fat is that we look at fat not in terms of physical appearance here, but in terms of health. If you are fat, you are automatically at risk of a whole fuck-ton of medical issues that are going to kill you unless you shed some pounds. Now, I’m not saying that there are people out there who’s health is in danger or is compromised because of their body size, but it is not true for the majority, at least, not to the extent as the medical field tends to think it is. 

For example, the normal BMI range is between 18.5 and 24. Anything below that and you’re in shit because you’re super underweight. Above 24 puts you in a “risk zone”. After that you hit obesity and then a danger zone in which you are so fat you are risking your life by existing in the body you have. Interestingly enough, in 1998, the cut off for the “normal” weight range was lowered. All of a sudden, the majority of those who were classified as normal before were suddenly put into a risk zone. That’s when all hell broke loose. Apparently we now had on our hands an epidemic of obesity. Fat became something we needed to fight against, because now all of a sudden everyone was at risk of medical issues having to do with their body weight. This lead to a huge moral panic – The World Health Organization defining obesity as a chronic disease (something you can catch), the movement toward opening a whole new market of diet aids and promoting weight loss regimes (because we now could capitalize on the market of new found fatties), movements to change the foods served in schools (which in a sense could be seen as a good thing until it went to extremes such as lunch box screening, making school kids wear pedometers during the school day, or including weight loss regimes as a part of school curriculum or acceptance into University programs), and above all else, single handedly promoting the discrimination of the fat body (or even the body with a bit of extra weight on) and something highly undesirable! By characterizing fat as a medical hazard, there is the idea that it is something that can be reversed, something treatable, and therefore something you do not want to embody. Deborah Lupton (2013) highlights that 

“The BMI thus aids as a regulating, disciplining and normalizing body metric, making distinctions between the ‘normal’ and the ‘pathological’ which bear with them moral meanings and judgements” (38).

There you have it. Being overweight is not normal. It’s something you should avoid, and it’s something you have brought on to yourself, so fix it. The medicalization of the fat body allows us to view fat as a disease a poor health choice and a lifestyle. It also gives us a bit of a peek into the opinions surrounding fat through the way the fat body is presented to us in other areas of society…

The Presentation and Representation of the Fat Body

So, obviously if fat bodies were represented fairly within Western society today (perhaps as more accepted, more desirable or even a little bit desirable, as “normal” and natural as the skinny body we seem to love so much) I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog on fatism. It’s sort of similar to if I were focusing on such an issue of the representation of women or homosexuals in Western society – if shit was fair people like me wouldn’t have to do this. Luckily for us, life isn’t fair, so that gives me lots to write about, which I guess is a good thing. Anyway, the way fat bodies are represented to us mainly takes place through – you guessed it – media outlets, advertising, that old hat. These popular culture outlets provide us with what we feel is knowledge of the way we are supposed to be acting and about what is considered normal and desirable at the current time. The consequences of this stem into the perpetuation and reinforcement of dumb-as-fuck beauty ideals that characterize the thin body as the desirable one to have, and places all of the emphasis of your self-worth on the way you look (which had better be sexy as all eff, because as we all know, all of us women are only in it to get a man, and you can’t get a man unless you look like whatever witch might be on the cover of Cosmopolitan that month…Excuse my rantings). Not to say there is no such thing as being too skinny – celebs are condemned for it all the time. However, we notice that most of the time if a female celeb is getting scary skinny it is assumed she’s had a run in with cocaine, not that she may be starving herself. You’re either too skinny or too fat, in my opinion. It’s like there’s an invisible line. I would very much like for this line to be pointed out to me someday, seriously. It would be like an Oprah Ah-ha moment. Then we could all be perfect and embody exactly what we were meant to as human beings. Our lives would be complete because the secret would be revealed to how we can all be pretty, happy, and successful!


Essentially what we learn from all of this negativity surrounding fat is that our ideas about fat are just another one of those things in life that is socially constructed. It’s all made up and then reinforced by that media shit I had mentioned previously, or through hegemonic masculine and feminine ideals of the way a man or woman is supposed to look, act and represent themselves.

What about the fat people? How are they represented to the Western world?

In a nutshell, the dominant message about fat is as follows: lazy, stupid, ugly, sloppy, unhealthy, out of control. Personally, I don’t find this very fair, but apparently selling this image is what gets people to not only participate in diet culture, but promotes the objectification of our bodies and the importance placed on self-policing and behaving ourselves in public. It tends to be extremely discriminating (hence fatism), and othering. I’ll provide a few examples, but I just want you to know right now that I am nowhere near finished, and that the list is endless. Personally, I don’t think there should be a list in the first place, but where would we as a society be if we didn’t have a group to other and project our fears onto? That’s right, we’d probably be living a lot happier and get along a hell of a lot more, but we all know that it can never be that easy.

So there’s this show called The Biggest Loser. I feel as if it does a damn good job in outlining just what fatism can be. First of all, the show revolves around the “journey” a group of people is taking in order to reduce their size so they can get their lives back (because apparently they weren’t living when they were considered overweight). The participate in extreme diet and exercise regimes that make “getting healthy” look like one of the most difficult, undesirable processes on the face of the planet. However, their hard work pays off if they reduce their weight by the time there’s a weigh-in at the end of the week! As in many cases within society – reducing one’s size is rewarded with praise and positive reinforcement. People on the other hand are blamed and considered failures if the opposite happens. (Fox-Kales 2011). In The Biggest Loser the weigh-in is pretty important, as it not only reaffirms the winning team, but gives the fat people on the show an idea that the bullshit they are putting themselves through is worth it. What is more, is that their fat bodies are represented in very undesirable manners – pictures of the contestants are shown where they are wearing unattractive, ill-fitting undergarments that emphasize their spilling fat, they are forced to weigh themselves in front of the group on a scale that displays their weight to the world, they are depicted as asexual (even though many of the contestants have romantic partners or are married), and emphasis is put on how it was by their own down that they ended up fat, so they have better be prepared to work toward the skinny them – who is automatically assumed to be happier, healthier, sexier, and more successful (Lupton 2013, Fox-Kales 2011).

Shows like this shame fat bodies overtly. There is no latent message here. Being fat is unacceptable, and you had better want to change that, your life is at stake here. How unfair this is actually makes me sick. Anyway, The Biggest Loser isn’t the only media outlet that takes pride in shaming the fat body and perpetuating negative stereotypes surrounding body type. There are endless representations of fat in film that display to us how undesirable it is – the offending body is usually the brunt of humor at the expense of the person’s body type (Shallow Hal, Bridesmaids), or the fat body usually embodies the evil villain in the film or TV show (something that is also true for the representations of homosexual people in film). My mind automatically goes to Ursula, the octopus lady in The Little Mermaid, don’t ask me why. Either way, fat people are depicted as mean, villainous and usually jealous of the thin lead character (in the case of females), often wanting to foil her in some way that has something to do with altering her appearance and making her ugly, or fat herself. Gaining weight is viewed as the worst possible thing that could ever happen to you (Mean Girls), and this is essentially showing us exactly what we as a society fear when it comes to self-appearance. These fat villains often meet a demise that involves death or jail, or something really terrible may happen to the fat person. The bottom line here is that Hollywood is making it look like any other life is better than the fat life, even if it means disappearing or dying. Being fat or becoming fat is feared above all else, is a deal breaker and a life ruiner. It’s just another way we “other” fat. 

Othering is done through creating an “us and them” complex. We embody one sort of ideal, they embody another. We are good; they are bad – and so on and so forth. Othering is common in times of war, or when we are trying to make the dominant group look good. It’s used a lot in stereotyping and racism as well (an example being characterizing and dehumanizing “the enemy” in times of war so it makes it easier to kill them, or by simply thinking that one group is better because they embody a certain characteristic). Another thing othering does very well is characterizes the fear we have about ourselves as a culture. We project what we do not wish to become on another group. By visualizing that fear, we can openly see it and actively work against it – such is the case with the way we characterize people who are overweight. It’s not something you ever want to become (because we are shown how unhappy they are, or how terrible their lives are—all because of how much space they take up). We also discriminate in ways that are othering – highlighting the fact that fat is just not something we want to deal with in society. This discrimination includes creating a world that is not accommodating to the fat body – airplane seats and movie theater chairs, openly criticizing the food people eat, making it seem as if eating is a sin and is shameful. It promotes disordered eating and shame around something as simple as enjoying a meal, or god forbid, dessert. I mean, I for one have seen this actively on both ends of the spectrum. I order dessert when I was larger –knowing looks are shared by those accompanying me as if they assume that my indulging in a browning after dinner is the sole reason I am overweight, or that I had to order dessert, as if I couldn’t live without it. Now it is quite the opposite. The amount people push Big Macs and chocolately desserts at me is astounding – perhaps they figure it’s a way for me to gain weight back – but there is this idea that skinny people have the ability to “pig out”, and they are viewed with a lot of jealousy in today’s day and age because eating is something they are “allowed” to do, or something they can “afford”.  In the end, by creating a world that is not friendly to the fat body and not doing much about it but expect those stuck in this world to change is quite unfair. I mean, you could view fat as a disability of sorts as we can clearly see “society’s inability to accommodate people who differ physically…from the norm” being characterized. However, being fat being a disability isn’t really the accepted view – just because people are often to have assumed to have chosen their fat bodies, people with “real disabilities” didn’t have a choice (Lupton 2013). 

Othering isn’t just for the fat people

There’s this quote I really like that has to do with othering the fat body, it goes as such:

“The fat body serves as a site for the projection of fears about death and bodily decay, a means of maintaining boundaries of ‘the good self’” (Lupton 2013: 59).

I think it gives a really good ‘in a nut shell definition’ of othering.

By establishing the fat that overweight individuals are pretty separated from “regular people” really opens our eyes as to how often and how easily we fall into the trap of the “us and them” way of thinking, does it not? It doesn’t help that advertising, media, movies and television do such a good job at reaffirming the stereotypes we are presented with in the first place that other this group of people entirely. In the end, they are devalued and thought of as lesser, and it’s quite unfair. As I mentioned, othering is one of those age old means of stereotyping and is probably one of the most effective forms of propaganda out there. It gets the job done, you see. Propaganda and all of the joyous stereotyping and prejudices that come with have one mission, and one mission only – get that message out there heard, understood, and adopted. What’s so interesting is that by othering groups, we learn more about ourselves than anyone else simply for the fact that the othered population normally embodies exactly the opposite of what we in the West feel we are. Like I said, othering is super popular during times of war and conflict, especially if killing another person is involved. In this case we normally see the other population depicted as vermin, something to be eradicated. In the case of fat, we see it as a death sentence, something to avoid by every means possible – even if that means changing yourself in drastic and unhealthy ways.

So long as you embody the ideal of beauty (which in turn equals the ideals surrounding happiness and success), you may continue to live your life carefree and willy nilly. Fatness (and with it all of the nasty stereotypes) is constantly looming in the darkness, so it is important to be active in avoiding it at all costs. What does this mean? Well, people do crazy things to avoid fat. They deprive themselves of food, they starve, they purge, they beat themselves up and identify with actresses and models, feeling as if their lives are somehow better because of the way we look, we get surgery to “enhance our appearance”, we buy into ad campaigns that shame enjoyment and indulging, we allow food to be categorized as “good”, “bad”, “sinful”, we let people get away with shaming their own eating habits and picking apart their bodies (ladies, I am specifically speaking to many of you), we continue to fear the word “fat” and we allow the taboos and body shaming to run the world. We are extremely guilty of buying into the crazy idea that individuality, beauty, and uniqueness is a certain ideal, a cookie cutter – our culture promotes a life goal of fitting into a cookie cutter shape. You are unique and special by subscribing to what “everyone else is doing” and not questioning it. 

Anyone else see a problem with that?

So much pressure is put on our outward appearance defining who we are and what we are about, as if a person cannot achieve a goal in life because of how big or small their nose is, or what color or style their hair is, or whether or not their jeans size is 25 or 32. What I’m trying to say is that fat people are not the only groups discriminated against for their outward appearance. They are not the only people who define their self-worth by their outward appearance. Take for example those with physical disabilities, “little” people, burn victims, people of other races (such as the Asian women who feel getting surgery to widen their eyes is the answer to their problems) and people with eating disorders, to name a few. 

An Aside: It’s interesting; I’ve seen more similarities between my eating disorder and fatism more recently as I get into discovering myself. These thoughts were milling about in my head for days until I came across a little bit in Lupton’s book about how overweight people and people with eating disorders share lot of characteristics. It was a different angle, and it was pretty neat to think about. Some of the similarities mentioned are the asexuality of the bodies because they are so extreme in size they no longer embody the ideal feminine body, that they are both viewed as emotionally damaged, eating or not eating for specific reasons, they are irrational in their thought patterns and for both, food becomes a material object at the center of their universe – it becomes a part of their identity. I just thought it was interesting, how two such extremes can be viewed in such a similar light.

We binge, we purge, we break our bones to gain an inch of height, we amputate body parts in order to fit our feet into pointy toed shoes, we starve, we plaster our faces with makeup, we spend money, we act in ways that dumb us down and mask our true potential… All of this is superficial. I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would take being overweight over their situation any day, especially if there is nothing to be done about their situation. Having weight on is not the end of the world in most cases (weird coming from someone in my situation, I know, but whatever). All of this discrimination and shaming is getting old. There’s got to be something we can do about it, is there not?

Fat Activism and Challenging the Norm

It’s just not my style to bitch and rant for what seems like forever and leave you all with no hope for the human race (though I don’t blame you for feeling a little apathy every once in a while). I haven’t touched on nearly as much as I would like to when it comes to fatism, so expect blog posts in the future concerning subtopics I just didn’t get a chance to dive into. For one, I really want to look at the female body in film, I want to look at the obesity epidemic and how it’s affecting children, and I want to look into the specifics of fat discrimination…You know, like how these people find it harder to obtain employment, are openly treated rudely in stores as opposed to their skinny counterparts, and are constantly reminded that this space, this world, it is not organized for them to move through easily. So stay tuned, it’ll come. 

So when it comes to combating fatism, what is there to do? Well, for one, we look into the various grassroots groups who take it upon themselves to shed light on the issue of fatism, sizeism and fat discrimination. One of my favorite groups are Pretty Porky and Pissed Off, a Canadian group formed in 1997 that works to reclaim the word “fat” (kind of like riot grrrl and “slut”)though sites of cultural resistance like dances, singing, lectures and performances. Now, more so the concentration is on the writing and education part from what I hear, but feel free to look them up. This group is full of all sorts of kick-assery (vive la PPPO!).

Other views on how to combat this bullshit that is fatism includes things we’ve talked about before, like paying attention to media and asking questions about the lies you are being faced with on a daily basis. Launch or participate in counter spin campaigns – combat the fat propaganda and expose the lies, promote mental health and inner beauty – so pay attention and actively seek out these campaigns. Even though there are lots of mixed opinions surrounding it, I think the Dove Real Beauty Campaign has a pretty good core philosophy. There’s also plenty of body positive blogging out there, so Google that shit. More recent sites of resistance include Lady Gaga’s Body Revolution as well, which promotes the “born this way” mantra. Speak up – be an active part in criticizing “the norm” and promote the non-physical aspects of what makes you beautiful (Like maybe your beautiful brain! I challenge you, as soon as you’re done reading, to make a list of 10-15 things that make you beautiful. Here’s the catch. No physical stuff. Nothing to do with appearance may be on this list. It’ll force you to think about your inner-beauty and how fucking special you really are. So do it). We need to characterize this obesity epidemic nonsense as a means of controlling the lifestyles and choices of the masses, perhaps looking at looking at food as something enjoyable and there to enjoy rather than something to be separated into forbidden and unforbidden groups, sinful and dangerous? Easier said than done, I know, and it may sound hypocritical coming from someone in my position, but the point still stands. This just goes to show that I still have a rational part of my brain that ED isn’t taking by the throat all the time. 

In all honesty, we need to reclaim fat. I used it a lot in this blog post, and trust me, at first; I was uncomfortable even typing the word. Reading the word over and over may have made you cringe, or made your mind wander, thinking about the dreaded “f-word”. What we need to recognize is that it’s just that. It’s only a word. Anything can be fat, just as anything can be purple, or dizzy. Caitlin Morin, author of my current favorite in feminist literature How to be a Woman, urges us to reclaim the word fat. She quite literally suggests standing on a chair and yelling the word, getting used to the word, accusing inanimate objects of being fat just as they exist, and seeing nothing wrong with that. Try it. “That lamp is fat”, “fat, fat, fat”, “that doorknob is fat”. It puts it into perspective just how silly it is that we attribute such negative connotations to something as simple as a word. As I’ve mentioned, fat is a powerful word, we just need to harness that power and start looking at it as a word that doesn’t have to be used as a threat, an insult, and a death sentence. Jessica Valenti (another lady crush of mine) likes to remind us that appearance is the oldest “shut the fuck up” tool in the book besides using the highest form of insult calling someone a girl in some way shape or form. Her message, Caitlin’s message, the message coming from the PPPO members, my message… It’s that we really need to think about how fucked up we are when it comes to what we think is worth it when it comes to the way we look. Don’t like it? – cut it off, there’s a quick fix – a pill for everything. We need to realize that advertisers need us to feel like shit in order for them to make money, and that’s the bottom line. We’d be much happier if our appearance wasn’t at the top of the pyramid of existence and self-worth. 

Another thing you could do quite easily, without even leaving your bedroom is putting yourself in another person’s shoes. You know that saying “it can always be worse”? – well, for the most part it’s true. We all have “fat” days, but do me a favor and next time you “feel fat”, step back and look at the situation objectively. Analyze your feelings and think about how even if you did magically gain 40 pounds of pure fat overnight (which is impossible), being larger isn’t going to be the worst possible thing that could happen to you at that moment. Just be thankful is what I’m trying to say, I guess. We are all unique in our own way; we may as well embrace that shit. I know I’m learning to. It's tough, but I'll get there too.

The damage we do to our bodies to embody ideals that in the end mean nothing is appalling. I don’t really know how we can get rid of something so strong and prevalent, but I know that I can take solace in the fact that there are people who have a problem with the way things are, and there are movements all over the place working to combat this. It’s kind of like a beacon of hope in a world that’s gone to shit. I’ll take a beacon for now, but the world had better be prepared when that beacon turns into the real deal. I’d suggest investing in a good pair of sunglasses, shit’s going to get real. 


Fox-Kales, E. (2011). Body Shots: Hollywood and the Culture of Eating Disorders. State University Press. New York, NY.

Fredrickson, Barbara L & Roberts, Tomi-Ann (1997). “Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks”. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 21, 173-206. Online. Accessed, November 29, 2012. Available: http://www.sanchezlab.com/pdfs/FredricksonRoberts.pdf\

Jowett, G.S.& O’Donnell, V. (2012). Propaganda and Persuasion, 5th ed. SAGE Publications Inc. USA. Print

Lupton, D. (2013). Fat. Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group. New York, NY. 

Moran, C. (2011). How to be a Woman. Ebury Press. Random House. Great Britain. 

Steuter, E., & Willis, D. (2008). At War with Metaphor: Media, Propaganda and Racism in the war on Terror. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Valenti, J. (2007). Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to why Feminism Matters. Seal press. Berkley, CA. 

Warin, M. (2010). Abject Relations: Everyday Worlds of Anorexia. New Jersey, USA

So concludes my independent study. I'll continue A love affair, this is not over... Getting marked for my insight is. Either way, thank you for your support, and thank you for hanging in there. 


  1. First, HEY! WE DIDNT GET TO SEE WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT YOUR QUOTE! Now I'm dying to know, mostly because your most recent (and most close to home) post fucked with my entire way of looking at everything. Thanks for that.

  2. Also, on a more serious note, wow. I had never thought about the medicalization of fat reinforcing negative eating behaviors and changing western society's perspective on obesity. I wanted to yell and argue with you while agreeing with you the entire time.

    I do agree with you; however, I'm still fighting with myself about some of what you had said, and maybe it could be a good springboard for a future post.

    You mentioned, "It’s (being fat) something you should avoid, and it’s something you have brought on to yourself, so fix it."

    Well, yes, isn't it? We aren't entirely responsible for being too fat or too skinny, but aren't we in part at fault? If I pig out on a case of oreo's, no one made me do it, I just didn't have the self-control (albeit media, etc, may make me insecure and then purchase said oreo’s, nevertheless….)

    Further, how can we "recover" if we do not take responsibility for our actions?

    Don't get me wrong, fatism is terrible. I experienced it first hand when I was an obese kid, RAGED at people if they used the f-word (fat, fatfatfatfatfat). I’m still overly sensitive about it. What's worse is, I've stereotyped people for being fat, and then discovered later on that some of these "fat" people I looked down upon were some of the most genuine, amazing people I have ever known.

    Basically what I am trying to say is…Obesity, at least in the context of one’s physical health, IS wrong. It CAN lead to future medical risks, it does limit one’s ability to perform certain activities and it is BAD when clothing sizes become bigger without us knowing it, or we are forced to over accommodate someone who is morbidly obese. I respect a person’s right to buy a plane ticket, to see their family abroad and to feel comfortable during travel, but if that person is 400lbs overweight, do we make the planes larger or create a fat section, or does the person require some work, so that she can enjoy traveling on a plane?

    What’s more, I firmly believe that having a healthy BMI level (or more appropriately, a healthy body fat ratio) IS important, and that we can lead happier and healthier lives if we are not overweight. PROBABLY to the point where I obsess over it, and then have high standards for myself, which I inevitably do not achieve, making me insecure and thus, purchase of oreo’s.
    But I don’t know how to let go of that belief, because I hold it to be absolutely true.

    This is a topic I am truly passionate about, and your wisdom on this subject would be most appreciated. This most recent post was more than inspiring, it was enlightening, and made me change my perspective on fatism in such a way that I never thought possible. I was in B.O.D.I.E.S. for two years, and I’ve read numerous articles and health books, but it was your article that really struck a chord. Never stop writing, and never stop speaking out.