Essay on The Oppression of Fat People in America

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The Oppression of Fat People in America

Many people see fat activists as a bunch of whiners who can’t keep their hand out of the cookie jar." — Kimberly, fat activist

Being fat is one of the most stigmatizing attributes in America. One cannot live through a single day without encountering numerous forms of fat prejudice in magazines, on television, in the streets, and even in homes. Erving Goffman’s Stigma delineates three types of stigma: abominations of the body, blemishes of individual character, and tribal stigma of race, nation and religion (4). According to Goffman’s definition, being fat is an abomination of the body. Being fat is a highly visible stigma, unlike the stigma of being queer which does not have an outward
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Fat people were not good people, and for that reason I didn’t ever want anyone to point out the fact that I was fat. When my physician pronounced me ‘overweight’ that didn’t make me feel any better than being ‘fat.’ In Fat!So? Marilyn Wann describes why it is important to use the word fat, by explaining the meaninglessness of words like overweight and obese (19). She writes, "Over whose weight? Everyone has their own unique weight that’s right for them." And later, "Obese. This is a doctor’s fancy way of saying, ‘I’m looking at you, and I find you disgusting. Would you like to buy this ineffective but wildly expensive weight-loss treatment?’" The fact is that specialist have never decided on what exactly constitutes being ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ (Wann 19). These definitions fluctuate within the healthcare industry and throughout history.

In our society, being fat discredits the individual and indicates physical and moral shortcomings. The stigma attributed to fat people includes being lazy, stupid, unprofessional, less agile, and many more myths. Thus fat people create ways to manage the stigma. Goffman suggests that, "The stigmatized individual is likely to use his stigma for ‘secondary gains,’ as an excuse for ill success that has come his way for other reasons" (10). Fat people believe these negative stereotypes, many see

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