Fat is a Feminist Issue

Here’s something you should read today:

Psychologist Susie Orbach’s debut book Fat Is a Feminist Issue celebrates 34 years of providing theoretical and practical musings on the relationship between women and fat. The book is equal parts self-help advice, psychology journal, gender studies, and fat-acceptance theory. As feminist and fat acceptance movements evolved from second-wave protests to contemporary digital activism, Fat Is a Feminist Issue connected the dots between two parallel causes for human rights while championing the individual’s right to be healthy and happy at every size. Orbach’s pioneer insistence that feminists needed to talk about body image and compulsive eating, while fat activists had to acknowledge issues of gender and difference, united two notorious social-activist movements that made progress possible across a dual spectrum of civil rights.

The full piece is here.

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8 comments for “Fat is a Feminist Issue

  1. April 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for reminding me I wanted to check out this book.

  2. Emolee
    April 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I am frustrated by the meme that women are fat because they are unhappy or unfullfilled. This could be true for some women. However:

    1) A lot of people use food as solace; not all or even most of them are fat.

    2) Most fat people are not compulsive eaters.

  3. Cheryl Fuller
    April 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    The article is terrific, the comments not so much.

    Orbach’s book was where I started in learning not to hate my body 34 years ago. It was life changing for me. At first I thought that it too would show me the way to become slender — it didn’t — but it did get me out of weight cycling. And for that alone I am profoundly grateful.

  4. April 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    I need to pick this book up.

  5. April 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    if fat women are unhappy and unfulfilled ( and many of us are happy and fulfilled) its because they buy into the Big Lie and hate themselves for not looking the way others think they should look

  6. Emolee
    April 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm


    Fat hate and a living in a culture that is hostile to fat bodies can certainly make people unhappy. But the way I always hear this trope is not that women are unhappy because they are fat, but that they are fat because they are unhappy- and are gorging on food to make up for a lack of love or intimacy or fulfillment or whatever. As I said, this is likely true for some fat (and thin) people. But I just see this as another way to pathologize fat, and it is an issue I have with some writers’ anti-diet (fat acceptance?) work.

  7. artdyke
    April 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    It’s so strange to me that we live in a society that reviles obesity while at the same time doing everything it can to make sure as much of us are overweight as possible. And succeeding.

  8. Emily
    April 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    artdyke–I definitely agree with that. Society is so ironic.
    I hate that we (America in particular) restrict beauty in such harmful ways. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which I sincerely believe it is, then why do we limit it to only including a small percentage of women? If you’re not thin, you’re ugly. If you’re too thin, you’re ugly. If you have “unwanted” facial hair, you’re ugly.
    Each and every person is beautiful. God doesn’t make ugly people, regardless of what the media or anybody else says.
    It makes me so angry when people tell me how to dress or that I should wear makeup to look better. What’s wrong with the way I look? Nothing. What’s wrong with the way you look? Nothing. We are beautiful.

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