The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America

Overview

A recent survey of American women found that a great many of them would rather be dead than fat. In every corner of the United States, fat children and adults are subject to ridicule and humiliation. The word "pretty" never applies to them, they are "pigs" "cows" or "hippos," and regardless of their eating behavior, they are viewed as "out of control" compulsive eaters. When it’s time to choose teammates for a game, dates for a dance, or even just friends, heavy women are ...
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Overview

A recent survey of American women found that a great many of them would rather be dead than fat. In every corner of the United States, fat children and adults are subject to ridicule and humiliation. The word "pretty" never applies to them, they are "pigs" "cows" or "hippos," and regardless of their eating behavior, they are viewed as "out of control" compulsive eaters. When it’s time to choose teammates for a game, dates for a dance, or even just friends, heavy women are invisible.

This intelligent, political, feminist treatise explores the all-pervasive prejudice against fat women. It is about shattering the stereotypes, raising awareness about harrassment, and asserting the truth that no one has the right to discriminate against anyone based on their size! Goodman exposes our culture’s widely-accepted hatred of fat women, from the "health police" who feel that it is their right to approach and criticize strangers about their weight, health, or appearance, to the mass media who perpetuate inappropriate standards of beauty. The Invisible Woman also discusses weight obsession, false assumptions about diet and exercise, the fear and loathing of fat women as sexual beings, disturbing similarities between the aesthetic ideals of the Nazis and America’s quiet extermination of heavy women, and an open letter to men who think fat women are ugly.

Certain to be controversial, this book raises social and personal consciousness at pivotal time the public is finally becoming aware of weight prejudice and women are being encouraged to embrace the body with which they were born.

Great timing! No other book that we have seen examines weight prejudice from a political, cultural, personal perspective.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Goodman, who recalls a grim childhood of being teased and ``condemned'' as ``the fat kid,'' brings a fierceness to her arguments about how women (in particular) are devalued for not being thin. Among her (valid) complaints are that heavy women are rarely seen in ads, movies or other media as happy, fulfilled, sexual individuals; that they are portrayed as dirty, lazy, unattractive and ``lacking in self-regard''; and that women are ``not popularly admired for their physical appetites, only their denial of them.'' However, the author's good intentions are weakened by her many dated media citations-some of the magazines and diet books she cites and quotes from are a decade or even 20 years out of date. More troubling is Goodman's attempt to link the dynamics of ``weight bigotry'' and ``anti-Semitism,'' in particular, the anti-Semitism of the Nazi era. Claims the author, ``The fat woman, like the Jew, is conscripted by society to carry its collective burdens of self-hate and fear.'' Since neither Goodman nor the pundits she criticizes supply a real definition of ``too fat'' (an ounce over the recent Harvard height/weight charts; medically obese; or just the size of the ``average'' American woman, who wears size 14 and up?), many of her provocative points lose, ahem, their weight. Goodman's attempt to deal with perceptions of fat, thin and bias in a serious manner is bold but ultimately not as convincing as it could have been. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Goodman, a legal secretary, makes a persuasive argument about weight prejudice: Negative generalizations about the character of the overweight woman, based on unexamined and uninformed beliefs, result in cruel and unwarranted treatment from both men and women. This "cultural taboo" benefits the health and weight-loss industries, pervades the media, and, in the interest of sexism, intensifies competition among women based on appearance. What is new in Goodman's analysis is the explicit parallel she draws between discrimination based on body size and racism, homophobia, and, particularly, anti-Semitism, an analogy to which she devotes a long chapter. Goodman counsels aggression against rather than acquiescence to the American obsession with obesity. Appropriate for large public libraries.-Cynthia Harrison, Federal Judicial Ctr., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780936077109
  • Publisher: Gurze Books
  • Publication date: 11/1/1995
  • Pages: 222
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 8.45 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Table of Contents

Author's Introduction
1 Now You See Her, Now You Don't: The Full-Figured Phantom 1
2 The Health Police: Your Body is My Business 18
3 The Mass Media: One Picture is Worth a Thousand Diets 46
4 Weight Prejudice and Sexism: The Invisible Woman as Failed Sex Object 69
5 Food, Sex, and Power: The Invisible Woman and The New Puritanism 97
6 A Prejudice by Any Other Name: Weight Bigotry, Anti-Semitism, and the Dynamics of Discrimination 125
7 Invisible No More: Learning to be Seen and Heard 170
Resources 203
Bibliography 205
Index 217
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