Why Fat is a Feminist Issue

  • Saguy A
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The proposition that fat is a feminist issue is almost an axiom within the feminist literature. And yet, different feminist scholars see fat as a feminist issue for radically different reasons. An analysis of mainly U.S. research suggests that for some, fat is a symptomof underlying distress and compulsive eating as a coping mechanism for this gendered anguish. For others, higher rates of “obesity” among poor women and women of color is a scandalous form of environmental injustice necessitating policy interventions to combat obesity in these populations. Others have argued that fat is a feminist issue because the fear of being or becoming fat tyrannizes average-size and relatively thin women, limiting their quality of life and often leading to eating disorders. In contrast, Fikkan and Rothblum (2011) argue that fat is a feminist issue because fat women are subjugated to bias, discrimination and abuse precisely because they are fat women. Unlike other approaches, they put actual fat women at the heart of their analysis, comparing their experience to that of both thin women and to fat men. They rightly signal the importance of examining how the social experiences of fat people vary by sex, social class, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation, among other factors. While emphasizing the importance of their perspective, this article advocates that this line of feminist analysis be pushed even further.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Fat
  • Feminism
  • Obesity

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  • Abigail Saguy

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