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Revolting Bodies?: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity [Paperback]

Kathleen Lebesco
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 23.97 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2003
Viewed as both unhealthy and unattractive, fat people are widely represented in popular culture and in interpersonal interactions as revolting - as agents of abhorrence and disgust. This work argues that if we think about "revolting" in a different way, we can recognize fatness as not simply an aesthetic state or a medical condition, but a political one. If we think of revolting in terms of overthrowing authority, rebelling, protesting, and rejecting, then corpulence carries a whole new weight as a subversive cultural practice that calls into question received notions about health, beauty, and nature. It examines a number of sites of struggle over the cultural meaning of fatness. It is grounded in scholarship on identity politics, the social construction of beauty, and the subversion of hegemonic medical ideas about the dangers of fatness. The text explains how the redefinition of fat identities has been undertaken by people who challenge conventional understandings of nature, health, and beauty and, in so doing, alter their individual and collective relationships to power.

Frequently Bought Together

Revolting Bodies?: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity + Bodies out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression
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Review

"I can think of no other book that resembles Revolting Bodies? No one else has theorized on the shifting, self-contradicting, wildly political rhetoric of fat oppression. I look forward to using the book in my undergraduate women's studies classes, and I can imagine that it will be used in graduate courses in anthropology, philosophy, and psychology, as well as more professionally oriented classes in social work and nursing...Lively, accessible, stimulating, and at times even profound."

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars How fat creates oppression and stereotypes May 6 2004
Format:Paperback
Fat people are widely represented in popular culture as being revolting: as agents of disgust yet Kathleen LeBesco argues in Revolting Bodies?: The Struggle To Redefine Fat Identity that fatness is more than a health or aesthetic issue: it is also a political issue. Revolting Bodies? informatively and thoughtfully considers sites of struggle over the cultural meaning of fatness and will have a special appeal to college-level health students as well as the health and fitness community with respect to its analysis of how fat creates oppression and stereotypes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Serious Look at Our Society and Being Fat June 30 2006
By M. E. Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found Revolting Bodies a difficult read. It doesn't have the light flair of Fat!So? or the humour of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life. It isn't full of funny cartoons are interesting sidebars. It is a serious look into the history and politics surrounding fat and the people attached to it. Through a series of chapters which read like short essays, LeBesco delves into the world of fat from a different perspective.

In the intro LeBesco states being fat goes beyond the physical and medical state and looks at it as a "political situation". The eight chapter titles are as follows:
* Organization and Embodiment: Politicizing and Historicizing Fatness
* Antidotes to Medical Discourse about Fatness
* Sexy/Beautiful/Fat
* Citizen Profane: Consumerism, Class, Race, and Body
* Revolution on a Rack: Fatness, Fashion, and Commodification
* Framing Fatness: Popular Representation of Obesity as Disability
* The Queerness of Fat
* The Resignification of Fat in Cyberspace
* Fat Politics and the Will to Innocence

Organization and Embodiment, discusses the portrayal of plush women in Hellenistic and Greek art as it strived to depict the normal as the ideal and beautiful. It goes on to discuss past cultures and the influence of food to maintain body stature and appearance. I always wondered how being fat became the "dirty" word. It was very interesting to see how the scale could have easily been tipped the other way and thin could have been ruled as "dirty" and unfavourable were it not for the political and religious directioning. An important point would definitely be how fat people are pigeon holed into a few mind sets leaving many left out because they don't fall into the predefined categories.

Antidotes to Medical Discourse, was a better chapter for me. I was able to get into the writer's vocabulary and not feel left out in the cold by her dialogue. In this chapter she discusses measures like health threats, food labelling and drug treatments being used by the government and the individual to curb obesity. She goes on to mention, briefly, the language of fat. Well worth reading.

Citizen Profane, asks what beauty means to the general population and where does the fat individual fit in? A very interesting tidbit from this chapter was the link between "fat oppression and capitalist culture" and the unlikelihood of it going away. Fat people don't conform to the ideal culture which promotes diets and fitness products so they're punished for going against the ideal. She touches on the confusion between obesity, poverty, socializing with other minority groups and ignorance.

Overall, the text is dry and hard to get through. And I went through many passages without having a clue what I was reading about before I hit a nugget that hit home for me. This book isn't for the faintly educated but if you want to move beyond the usual cutesy books normally thrown at us I recommend this one. You will definitely learn something new about our society and culture and the ins and outs of the "fat identity". Reviewed by M. E. Wood
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More for academics and research Oct. 2 2010
By Tihaitien - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It wasn't what I was expecting. This book is better used for research and academics on the impact of obesity in society and how discrimination against obesity is created and perpetuated. It is not intended to make you feel good about yourself but possibly to make you mad and revolt :)
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How fat creates oppression and stereotypes May 6 2004
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Fat people are widely represented in popular culture as being revolting: as agents of disgust yet Kathleen LeBesco argues in Revolting Bodies?: The Struggle To Redefine Fat Identity that fatness is more than a health or aesthetic issue: it is also a political issue. Revolting Bodies? informatively and thoughtfully considers sites of struggle over the cultural meaning of fatness and will have a special appeal to college-level health students as well as the health and fitness community with respect to its analysis of how fat creates oppression and stereotypes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic but compelling June 21 2011
By Kristin Bell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As others have noted, this is not a light-hearted romp through fat town, but an academically-oriented discourse that seeks to spur readers into action and contemplation. Even though the book is short, it is very well written and worth the money. I appreciated how the author chose to look at fat through the construct of identity. Inspiring and empowering! Highly recommended!
4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying June 23 2006
By Brian Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Some say this slender volume provides thin gruel for the overweight, but those nay-sayers can stuff it. There's plenty of food for thought here, and I for one will no longer regurgitate my stale notions of fat identity.
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