SOCIAL SCIENCES

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat

Beacon. Oct. 2020. 216. ISBN 9780807041307. $25.95. SOC SCI
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Gordon (creator, Your Fat Friend) addresses what may be the last socially acceptable form of bias: fat discrimination. She describes in painful detail the issues that fat people face daily: “well-meaning” women removing items from grocery carts, passing drivers shouting insults, the idea that the obese should be grateful for unwanted sexual attention, barriers to employment and healthcare, and more. As Gordon explains, nearly all of us are conditioned to see fat people as burdens, and it takes effort to unlearn this bias that is buried deeply in American culture. The author shows how obesity is seen as a personal and moral failing rather than a complex state that is strongly influenced by genetics. Fat people are more likely to be women, and women of color, and fat bias may allow gender and racial discrimination to hide in a “safe” form. Moving from memoir to medical history, the book also covers the dangers of BMI, Weight Watchers, and TV shows like The Biggest Loser. Gordon closes with a plea for a body justice movement—beyond “body positivity”—and offers several recommendations for achieving it.
VERDICT Everyone who has a fat family member, friend, acquaintance, or coworker should read this insightful book.

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