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Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture Paperback – May 2 2011

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" Farrell's explorations of fat primitivism in mainstream and feminist cultures are invaluable to understanding the contemporary stigmatization of fat that has become nearly ubiquitous in America today...with its lucid and rigorous account of the development and circulation of fat stigma in historical and current contexts, Fat Shame is indeed a soon-to-be-classic text in the field of Fat Studies." Teachers College Record "In this groundbreaking and fascinating text, Farrell repositions the fat body within a political framework, one that explores how power is exercised over bodies and how stigma and shame regulates and controls which citizens are granted access to full citizenship. Drawing from the work of cultural theorists such as Susan Bordo, Farrell eloquently articulates the political operations mitigating a woman's relationship to her body, and repositions the fat body as a site of subversion." Women's Post

About the Author

Amy Farrell is Professor of American Studies and Women's and Gender Studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. She is also the author of "Yours in Sisterhood: Ms. Magazine and the Promise of Popular Feminism." She lives in Carlisle with her husband and two children.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
A rigorous historical look at a powerful social stigma May 10 2011
By Miz Lyn - Published on
Format: Paperback
The other reviews of this book make it abundantly clear why Amy Farrell's work is so important. The notion that fat "should" be stigmatized is so deeply rooted in our culture that the possibility that this stigma has a history, and serves certain political and economic interests is unthinkable to many. Fat shame seems like gravity: an ever-present, immutable rule of nature.

Luckily, Farrell's excellent book makes it abundantly clear that fat stigma developed at a certain time for particular cultural purposes. She does an excellent job at taking apart how fat became a symbol and a stake in American contests around racial identity, gender, consumption and citizenship. And, what was most interesting to me, was her finding that anti-fat images and ideas developed long before "health concerns" were called upon to justify what is, at its root, an ugly form of social hatred. Her work also documents efforts to get out from under fat shame, efforts that are at long last treated with the respect they deserve.

If the shame, scorn and disgust that surrounds fat, fat bodies and fat people seems as inevitable, natural and self-evident as the sun rising and setting every day, read this book and think again!
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Great book - a must read for anyone who has a body. May 11 2011
By Roger A. - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a fat person in a fat-hating society, I have lived with prejudice all my life. From being denied an interview after being told on the phone that the job was available, being bullied in childhood and called a fat pig or whale as I walk down the street as an to having every doctor I see now asking me if I had considered weight loss surgery, it's a fact. Let's face it, our society as a whole fears and dislikes fat people. Some blame us for our size, as evidenced by two of the reviewers here. All I want is to have the same opportunities as average sized people - doctors, chairs that support me, movement opportunities (I work out in a pool three times a week) and the right to walk down the street without having people glare at me. Books like Fat Shame educate the public about the context and history of fat hatred and, if the reader is open-minded at all, should make a difference in how fat people are viewed and treated.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
A must read for anyone who lives in a fat body, loves someone who is fat, or hates fat bodies May 11 2011
By Kelly Bliss - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fat Shame is an important read for anyone who feels shame about their body AND ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO FEEL NEGATIVELY TOWARD FAT BODIES (like some of the reviewers who attack the author personally and make crude remarks about fat people, thus demonstrating size-prejudice right here in the reviews).

By understanding social views in context, we can make more informed decisions as to whether we want to continue those views or not. It is indeed very important to understand the history of public opinion. It is also important to understand that the current frenzied fat hating views we see so often in the media are part of public opinion, not medical fact. To look at fatness throughout history and to examine our current attitudes toward fat in context is a valuable way to help sort fact from fiction.

Regarding the health ramifications of fatness, this is a topic of much debate. A growing body of research has proven that most of the health issues that are attributed to large body size are actually the result of lifestyle choices. Small, medium, and large people who have poor dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle are at increased risk for health problems. All people need to focus on Health At Every Size to improve wellness, not just fat people. Heaping shame on fat people is a distraction from actual health goals. Feeling shame for your own fat body will get in the way of your own improved lifestyle and health.

Farrell's book can help individuals and our culture understand fat shame and release it so we can all move forward toward health. I highly recommend this book as part of the individual recovery process for body image issues and for improving your relationships with anyone you love who happens to be fat.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A heavy-duty analysis of a heavy topic... May 11 2011
By Bill Fabrey - Published on
Format: Paperback
Fat Shame is remarkably on target in its analysis of our fatphobic culture and its obsession with body size. Few subjects are more controversial than body fat, and you can find very little published on the subject that is objective and thoughtful. Indeed, the field is dominated by diet books (including a few that claim to not be diet books, but are).

This book is a breath of fresh air for me. I must admit to being less than objective myself, however, having seen first-hand for many years the daily discrimination faced by larger friends and family members based solely on the size and shape of their bodies. I know how hard they have all worked to lose weight and stay thin, to no avail. Will power? Most of them have more than I do. I don't know how I would have been able to go through the diet rigors most of them have suffered.

Apparently, there is far more to the biology of being fat than meets the eye. We should just stop judging people based on what they look like!

I loved the book.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Well written-love it! June 14 2011
By Allimay - Published on
Format: Paperback
Being a scientist, this book did not fall into my "usual" reading repetoire, however I thought it was a fantastic read. The book is extremely well written and it is obvious that Farrell has done an extensive amount of research on the topic. Being a mother of three small children, two of which are girls, I have an interest in body images, and this book does a great job exploring the aspects of fatness, and opens us all up to the ideas of fat stigma in America. Having seen the author on the Colbert Report, I know that she, herself, is not obese or even slightly overweight, but the fact that she can so eloquently open our eyes to the denigration of fatness is wonderful.