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Framing Fat

Framing Fat: Competing Constructions in Contemporary Culture

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Framing Fat
    Book Description:

    According to public health officials, obesity poses significant health risks and has become a modern-day epidemic. A closer look at this so-called epidemic, however, suggests that there are multiple perspectives on the fat body, not all of which view obesity as a health hazard.Alongside public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advertisers of the fashion-beauty complex, food industry advocates at the Center for Consumer Freedom, and activists at the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.Framing Fattakes a bird's-eye view of how these multiple actors construct the fat body by identifying the messages these groups put forth, particularly where issues of beauty, health, choice and responsibility, and social justice are concerned. Samantha Kwan and Jennifer Graves examine how laypersons respond to these conflicting messages and illustrate the gendered, raced, and classed implications within them. In doing so, they shed light on how dominant ideas about body fat have led to the moral indictment of body nonconformists, essentially "framing" them for their fat bodies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6093-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. ii-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-21)

    JUNE 22, 2011:ABC News(Carollo and Salahi 2011) reports on research findings out of the Harvard School of Public Health. To understand the relationship between lifestyle and weight, investigators examined three separate studies spanning a twenty-year period that included over 120,000 subjects. They found that weight gain was associated with several foods; at the top of the list of nutritional culprits were potato chips, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened drinks.

    August 10, 2010: AMedical News Today(George 2010) headline reads, “Research Shows Sugary Drinks Do Not Cause Weight Gain.” The article reports on a study published in the journal...

    (pp. 22-41)

    IN NOVEMBER 2008 Susan D’Arcy made a heartfelt plea to the public: “Young girls should not be subjected to images of celebrity women who are so thin. It’s unrealistic for girls to have these women as role models” (Stokes 2008). Her request was motivated by tragedy. At the age of thirteen, Ms. D’Arcy’s daughter Imogen hanged herself in the bathroom of the family home because she felt “fat and ugly.” Her father told the press that his daughter’s concerns about her weight were misguided, describing her as of average height and weight, and very popular.

    Imogen was not alone; research...

    (pp. 42-69)

    BY MOST ACCOUNTS, June 17, 1998, was an unremarkable day. Venus Williams celebrated a birthday. Chile tied Austria in a World Cup soccer game. Tori Amos performed in Nürnberg, Germany. And 25 million Americans became overweight without gaining a single pound (Cohen and McDermott 1998)!¹ For this feat they could thank the Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement standard based on a person’s height and weight that was adopted by a number of high-ranking health agencies that day. Despite initial controversy and even rejection of the BMI by some experts, adoption of the BMI by health authorities was alleged to...

    (pp. 70-93)

    IN DECEMBER 2010, Monet Parham, a mother of two from Sacramento, California, filed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s. Unlike previous suits that accused the restaurant chain of making coffee that was too hot (Liebeck v. McDonald’s) or serving food that caused two teenage girls to become obese (Pelman v. McDonald’s), Parham’s suit focused on Happy Meal toys. Parham alleged that McDonald’s sells toys that bait children and encourage them to develop a preference for Happy Meals. In her words, “we have to say ‘no’ to our young children so many times, and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do....

    (pp. 94-115)

    IN 2001, JENNIFER PORTNICK, a 240-pound aerobics instructor who reportedly worked out six times a week and taught back-to-back exercise classes, was denied a franchise by the exercise chain Jazzercise. A company representative maintained, “Jazzercise sells fitness…. Consequently, a Jazzercise applicant must have a higher muscle-to-fat ratio and look leaner than the public. People must believe Jazzercise will help them improve, not just maintain their level of fitness. Instructors must set the example and be the role models for Jazzercise enthusiasts” (Fernandez 2002). Ms. Portnick, who happens to live in one of only a handful of U.S. jurisdictions in which...

    (pp. 116-143)

    SINCE THE SECOND-WAVE feminist movement, gender scholars have written about the deleterious effects of cultural beauty ideals (Bartky 1990; Bordo 2003; Hesse-Biber 1996; Wolf 1991). They have documented the harmful effects of these ideals on both the psyche and the material body and shown how preoccupation with the thin ideal has stymied women’s social advancement (Wolf 1991; Zones 1997). These findings have also elicited an ongoing debate about the relationship between cultural structure and women’s agency (Davis 1991). While this scholarship has uncovered important knowledge of cultural body norms and their effects, it has failed to provide a comprehensive understanding...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 145-149)
    (pp. 151-176)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 177-183)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 184-184)