Revolting Bodies?: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity Paperback – Jan 1 2003
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"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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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
* 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
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