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San Diego Feminist Book Group Message Board › Discussion Topics for Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America's Obesity

Discussion Topics for Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America's Obesity Epidemic

user 4396228
Los Angeles, CA
1)    Oliver does a thorough job at pointing out false reasoning and misleading scientific studies that have created the phenomena of the “obesity epidemic” in his attempt to disprove that it exists altogether. However, are there possibly some results that could prove problematic when the main focus is to challenge a defining stigma of an oppressed group?

i.e. – Think if the entire civil rights movement [fat activist movement] was based on proving that people of color [fat people] are as smart as white men [as healthy as non-fat people].  And because of this, that is why they deserve to not be discriminated against and to have equal rights – not because they are human regardless of their intelligence [size and/or health status].

2)    Oliver fervently asserts that white women are the worst affected by anti-fat propaganda and mentality. Do you agree? Why or why not?

3)    Following what Oliver has to say about fat-hatred being born out of the middle-class’ efforts to reach higher social status by body-type (and what the skinny body symbolized – lack of power) and given that the majority of the 2nd wave feminist movement was cultivated in the middle class, is it possible that the skinny ideal gained so much ground, in part, due to 2nd wave feminism?  What might explain the shift in feminist ideology in 3rd wave feminism to the embracing of size acceptance and size diversity?

4)    Does feminism lead to fat-hatred because there was finally something that women could control? Did the fact that women could actively participate in body image control help advance the whole concept of an ideal body?

5)    Oliver says, “In a class-conscious, economically developed society, a vicious cycle of thinning thus ensues: high-status women think they need to be thinner to attract a high-status man who wants a thin woman to demonstrate his higher status. From this perspective, the tyranny of thinness is not a conscious male effort to keep women disempowered but the by-product of sexual competition.”
•    This is a largely heterosexist viewpoint. How do we explain fat-hatred and the pursuit of thinness amongst women who love women? Or does that exist for other reasons?
•    Is there any evidence that the “tyranny” is a conscious made effort by men?

6)    The existence of an “obesity epidemic” seems to be largely agreed upon by the masses.
For example:
LIBERALS: obesity epidemic as a useful weapon in the battle against corporate political influence
CONSERVATIVES: obesity taxing the healthcare system and costing taxpayers; result of feminism destroying the family and affecting the way we eat

What reasons are there for the general consensus, despite varying “logic”, that “obesity” is such a significant problem? How is this reflected in feminist thought today, if at all?

7)    In what ways, other than discussed in the book, are fat women subjugated, marginalized and oppressed in society due their size?
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