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The Fat Studies Reader

The Fat Studies Reader

by Esther Rothblum

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Winner of the 2010 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology

Winner of the 2010 Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Edited Volume in Women’s Studies from the Popular Culture Association

We have all seen the segments on television news shows: A fat person walking on the sidewalk, her face out of frame so


Winner of the 2010 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology

Winner of the 2010 Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Edited Volume in Women’s Studies from the Popular Culture Association

We have all seen the segments on television news shows: A fat person walking on the sidewalk, her face out of frame so she can't be identified, as some disconcerting findings about the "obesity epidemic" stalking the nation are read by a disembodied voice. And we have seen the movies—their obvious lack of large leading actors silently speaking volumes. From the government, health industry, diet industry, news media, and popular culture we hear that we should all be focused on our weight. But is this national obsession with weight and thinness good for us? Or is it just another form of prejudice—one with especially dire consequences for many already disenfranchised groups?

For decades a growing cadre of scholars has been examining the role of body weight in society, critiquing the underlying assumptions, prejudices, and effects of how people perceive and relate to fatness. This burgeoning movement, known as fat studies, includes scholars from every field, as well as activists, artists, and intellectuals. The Fat Studies Reader is a milestone achievement, bringing together fifty-three diverse voices to explore a wide range of topics related to body weight. From the historical construction of fatness to public health policy, from job discrimination to social class disparities, from chick-lit to airline seats, this collection covers it all.

Edited by two leaders in the field, The Fat Studies Reader is an invaluable resource that provides a historical overview of fat studies, an in-depth examination of the movement’s fundamental concerns, and an up-to-date look at its innovative research.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With 40 essays that span an impressive array of academic and popular approaches, this book is the first to collect the essential texts of the blossoming discipline known as fat studies, which explores why the oppression of fat people remains acceptable in American culture. As contributor Bianca D.M. Wilson notes in her piece, fat studies is an arena where the personal, political and scientific converge, and with this book, readers can mount an informed challenge to the medical construction of obesity and size, the diet industry, insurance companies, public policy and popular culture. Arranged thematically, the essays survey the “social and historical construction of fatness,” “fatness as social inequality” and even “size-ism in popular culture and literature.” While one essay points out the North American biases of the current state of fat studies, new cross-cultural work would do well to attend to this volume first. It may be too soon for the movement to offer utopian alternatives, but these essays offer a rich supply of tools for the activist and scholar willing to start the revolution, including a “fat liberation manifesto.” (Dec.)
Library Journal
Rothblum, who runs the Fat Legal Advocacy, Rights, and Education Project, and Solovay (women's studies, San Diego State Univ.; Tipping the Scales of Justice: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination) compile essays studying key issues in this emerging field on the heels of the first national conference on fat studies in 2006. Fifty-plus writers explore the health, legal, historical, and societal issues of being fat (their preferred term), among many other angles. While discussing expected topics such as stereotypes, media representations, stigmas, and how weight is uncorrelated to health, contributors also deal with issues specific to certain groups, such as African American women, gays, and "hoggers." The book, divided into six main sections—on, e.g., health, social inequality, popular culture/literature, and "starting the revolution" (achieving weight-based equality)—covers extensive territory. Each essay is several pages long, which makes it easy to read and browse. Using bold language, contributors do not skirt around issues—readers should be prepared for a direct and important dialog. VERDICT For readers interested in nutrition or issues surrounding those who are overweight.—Leigh Mihlrad, Albany Medical Coll., NY
From the Publisher
“The essays rarely come across as didactic, and the milestone achievement of this collection is the way it combines public policy and chick-lit, eroto-politics and gay chubb-chasers, job discrimination and lesbian size queens.”
-Curve Magazine

“With a winning audacity, The Fat Studies Reader announces its intention to serve as the foundation of a new academic field. Its editors present convincing voices from law, medicine, social sciences and the humanities, making it difficult to dismiss their case that the time has come for fat studies.”

-Ms. Magazine

Product Details

New York University Press
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6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This book wastes no time getting in the reader's face about its intentions to break critical ground on the emerging field of fat studies and the need to combat inequities limiting the lives of fat people. The tone is strident; the essays will provoke reactions, especially from scholars studying obesity and other weight-related issues within a public health framework... This unapologetic reader, laced throughout with theory, analysis, and research findings, is written in a consistently direct and impassioned style. It is an invaluable map of fat studies, giving voice to its proponents and outlining an agenda for future work. Summing Up: Essential."-CHOICE,

"The publication of The Fat Studies Reader is a watershed in the institutionalization of this new field. The thick volume comprises forty succinct pieces authored by a mix of established researchers and budding new scholars, overwhelmingly women, working in diverse academic fields from within the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences... Readers will find plenty to chew on in this big, fat, juicy volume."-Women's Review of Books,

"An eye-opening, thought-provoking volume that challenges our basic assumptions as well as the 'truths' by which we have lived our lives, and eclares war on the 'War on Obesity'."-Feminism & Psychology,

"The value of this anthology lies not just in the scholarly analyses, and the critical lens applied to traditional assumptions and social practices, but its development of a call to action." -Sex Roles,

"The book...mark[s] a watershed moment in fat studies."-Michael Brown,Townhall.com

Meet the Author

Esther D. Rothblum is Professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University. She is the editor or co-editor of over twenty books, including Overcoming Fear of Fat.

Sondra Solovay is an attorney, adjunct professor of law, content developer, and activist focusing on weight-related issues, diversity, and the law. She runs the Fat Legal Advocacy, Rights, and Education Project and is the author of Tipping the Scales of Justice: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Marilyn Wann is Founder of the FAT! SO? 'zine and author of FAT! SO?: Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size!

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