Obesity and Naturalness

High profile anti-obesity activist Meme Roth writes on her blog: “Let’s finally recognize obesity as abuse—abuse of our children, abuse of ourselves—and together take action.” Roth has recently trademarked the term “second-hand obesity”, playing on “second-hand smoke.” She writes that second-hand obesity is passed along from parent to child and from citizen to citizen. Roth makes numerous television appearances every year and continually underlines the association of fat with sickness, death, and unnaturalness.

New research by Dr. Arya Sharma is beginning to break the elision of fat and sickness with his new research:

“The back-to-back studies come as more evidence emerges that a significant proportion of overweight people are metabolically healthy and that the risks associated with obesity do not make for a one-size-fits-all formula.” More can be found here: http://www.canada.com/health/Heavy+healthy+formula+slims+down+definition+dangerously+obese/5257089/story.html

If the risks associated with obesity are less dramatic than once believed, then what is feeding this culture of obesity panic that aims to “blast away fat” and “burn belly fat” away in 10 days or less?

What surprises me about much of the writing on obesity, like Roth’s and Richard Carmona, the Surgeon general of the United States who compared the obesity epidemic to terrorism, is that Continue reading

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Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue

Call For Papers
“Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue”

Special Journal Issue of Feminism & Psychology
Guest Editor: Dr Samantha Murray

While cultural anxieties about fatness and stigmatisation of fat
bodies in Western cultures have been central to dominant discourses
about bodily `propriety´ since the early twentieth century, the rise
of the `disease´ category of obesity and the moral panic over an
alleged global `obesity epidemic´ has lent a medical authority and
legitimacy to what can be described as `fat-phobia´. Against the
backdrop of the ever-growing medicalisation and pathologisation of
fatness, the field of Fat Studies has emerged in recent years to offer
an interdisciplinary critical interrogation of the dominant medical
models of health, to give voice to the lived experience of fat bodies,
and to offer critical insights into, and investigations of, the
ethico-political implications of the cultural meanings that have come
to be attached to fat bodies.

This Special Issue will examine a range of questions concerning the
construction of fat bodies in the dominant imaginary, including the
problematic intersection of medical discourse and morality around
`obesity´, disciplinary technologies of `health´ to normalise fat
bodies (such as diet regimes, exercise programs and bariatric
surgeries), gendered aspects of `fat´, dominant discourses of
`fatness´ in a range of cultural contexts, and critical strategies for
political resistance to pervasive `fat-phobic´ attitudes. Continue reading