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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Consuming Bodies: Fatness, Sexuality, and the Protestant Ethic


For those readers who spent their entire lives up till today in a secluded bomb shelter or an abandoned cave in some nearby woods, allow me to share a secret with you: fat persons are stigmatized. As I will discuss, and explore, below, fatness has come to represent a slew of undesirable social identities or traits. Fatness also represents some of the rather scary and perplexing contradictions characterizing many Western, industrialized citizens. Fat people often bring to mind -- as well as print, popular discourses, and daily experience -- conceptions of non-Whiteness, class inequalities, violations of the Protestant Ethic, media-popularized beauty ideals, health, and personal freedoms. That’s a lot of cultural baggage to place on the shoulders of fat folks, no matter how broad or plump they may be.

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