The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America

The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America

by W. Charisse Goodman

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…  See more details below


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.

Read More

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 - 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.

Read More

Product Details

Gurze Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.99(w) x 8.45(h) x 0.64(d)

What People are saying about this

Leslie Simon
An expertly crafted, well-documented critique of a kind of discrimination that some of the most liberal among us still practice.
— Leslie Simon Poet & Writer Women�s studies instructor
Susan Kano
The most insightful and provocative treatise on weight prejudice to date. Every teacher, health professional and parent should read this book.
— (Susan Kano, author of Making Peace with Food)
John P. Foreyt
A devastating critique of America�s prejudice against the obese. Must reading. ,br>— (John P. Foreyt, Ph.D. Baylor College of Medicine, author of Living Without Dieting)
Marsha Germaine
The Invisible Woman is an intensely feminist and political book, pulling no punches as it exposes the roots and reverberations of weight bigotry in America. W. Charisse Goodman is angry, without apology. Her passion will stir women of size to throw off the shackles of size oppression and get on with their lives.
— (Marsha Germaine Hutchinson, Ed.D. author of Transforming Body Image)
Donna Ciliska
A fact and example-laden work which is an invaluable source of information for those who work towards reducing size discrimination, and for those who claim that size discrimination does not exist!
— (Donna Ciliska, Ph.D., author of Beyond Dieting)
Joel Yager
Anyone who has struggled with obesity, with the slings and arrows of outrageous mass media, and with the taunts of both mean-spirited and well intentioned friends, family and strangers will resonate with Goodman's well told analysis. As Goodman wisely points out, the self-loathing and doubts regarding maturity, will-power, sexuality, and basic worth experienced by millions of women are generated by societal "fattism" -- a basic prejudice that, unfortunately, too many of us fail to adequately challenge. Her prescriptions for becoming "visible" once again will hearten and guide those who have been victims.
— Joel Yager, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, Univ of New Mexico School of Medicine Editor-in- Chief, Eating Disorders Review
Russell Marx
W. Charisse Goodman challenges our most basic assumptions about causes and effects of weight �problems,� and compares the increasing hatred our society has for large women with the Nazi persecution of the Jews. For all who are terrorized by �anorexia chic,� she makes a passionate plea: �Let my people go.
— Russell Marx, M.D. Director San Diego Institute for Eating Disorders
Arnold Andersen
The Invisible Woman presents a searing indictment of how our society globally discounts heavier women, and lays the foundation for a just and humane society in which weight prejudice yields to individual recognition and opportunity. Intense, persuasive, sensitive, timely.
— Arnold Andersen, Ph.D. Professor, University of Iowa College of Medicine
Rita Freedman
This thoughtfully-written and thoroughly-researched book sheds light on an invisible social evil that hurts us all. Goodman puts body fat in a cultural context where it belongs. She exposes the internalized oppression suffered by heavy women who are viewed and must view themselves through a social lens clouded by prejudice and discrimination. The effects are as destructive as racism or anti-Semitism. This is essential reading for people of all sizes who are the invisible victims of fat oppression.
— (Rita Freedman, Ph.D. Clinical psychologist, author of Bodylove)
Joseph H. McVoy
This is an important book for all—men and women—fat and thin—to read. It should be required reading for all medical and mental health professionals before they see another client. The author�s creative and encyclopedic use of quotes from our culture�s commentary on the meaning of FAT in America adds drama and gives the reader a punch that is both visceral and entertaining.
— (Joseph H. McVoy, Ph.D., Director AHELP (Assoc for the Health Enrichment of Large People)

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >