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In recent decades, America has been waging a veritable war on fat in which not just public health authorities, but every sector of society is engaged in constant “fat talk” aimed at educating, badgering, and ridiculing heavy people into shedding pounds. We hear a great deal about the dangers of fatness to the nation, but little about the dangers of today’s epidemic of fat talk to individuals and society at large. The human trauma caused by the war on fat is disturbing—and it is virtually unknown. How do those who do not fit the “ideal” body type feel being the object of abuse, discrimination, and even revulsion? How do people feel being told they are a burden on the healthcare system for having a BMI outside what is deemed—with little solid scientific evidence—“healthy”? How do young people, already prone to self-doubt about their bodies, withstand the daily assault on their body type and sense of self-worth? In Fat-Talk Nation, Susan Greenhalgh tells the story of today’s fight against excess pounds by giving young people, the campaign’s main target, an opportunity to speak about experiences that have long lain hidden in silence and shame. Featuring forty-five autobiographical narratives of personal struggles with diet, weight, “bad BMIs,” and eating disorders, Fat-Talk Nation shows how the war on fat has produced a generation of young people who are obsessed with their bodies and whose most fundamental sense of self comes from their size. It reveals that regardless of their weight, many people feel miserable about their bodies, and almost no one is able to lose weight and keep it off. Greenhalgh argues that attempts to rescue America from obesity-induced national decline are damaging the bodily and emotional health of young people and disrupting families and intimate relationships. Fatness today is not primarily about health, Greenhalgh asserts; more fundamentally, it is about morality and political inclusion/exclusion or citizenship. To unpack the complexity of fat politics today, Greenhalgh introduces a cluster of terms—biocitizen, biomyth, biopedagogy, bioabuse, biocop, and fat personhood—and shows how they work together to produce such deep investments in the attainment of the thin, fit body. These concepts, which constitute a theory of the workings of our biocitizenship culture, offer powerful tools for understanding how obesity has come to remake who we are as a nation, and how we might work to reverse course for the next generation.
Susan Greenhalgh tells the story of the "war on fat" and its psychological impact on young people, giving them an opportunity to speak about experiences that have long lain hidden in silence and shame.
'Fat China' provides an in-depth analysis of the growing problem of obesity and body image in China as urban lifestyles change and a sizeable middle class emerges. Rising obesity rates are examined in relationship to changing diets, modern lifestyles, investment from foreign fast food and supermarket retailers and urban planning. Crucial to this analysis is the likely effects on China's future development and already overburdened healthcare system.
A look at how fatness became a cultural stigma in the United States.
Illuminates the wondrous yet disquieting medical realm of organ transplantation by drawing on the voices of those most deeply involved: transplant recipients, clinical specialists, and the surviving kin of deceased organ donors. This ethnographic study explores how these parties think about death, loss, and mourning.
In recent years, body studies has expanded rapidly, becoming an increasingly popular field of study within anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies. This groundbreaking textbook takes the topics and theories from these disciplines, and combines them into one single, easily accessible text for students. Body Studies is a comprehensive textbook on the social and cultural uses and meanings of the body, for use in undergraduate college courses. Its clear, accessible chapters explore, among other things: the measurement and classification of the human body illness and healing the racialized body the gendered body cultural perceptions of beauty new bodily technologies. This book investigates how power plays an important role in the uses, views, and shapes of the body—as well as how the body is invested with meaning. Body Studies provides a wealth of pedagogic features for ease of teaching and learning: ethnographic case studies, boxes covering contemporary controversies, news stories, and legislative issues, as well as chapter summaries, further reading recommendations, and key terms. This book will appeal to students and teachers of sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, women’s studies, gender studies, and ethnic studies.
Black & Blue is the first systematic description of how American doctors think about racial differences and how this kind of thinking affects the treatment of their black patients. The standard studies of medical racism examine past medical abuses of black people and do not address the racially motivated thinking and behaviors of physicians practicing medicine today. Black & Blue penetrates the physician’s private sphere where racial fantasies and misinformation distort diagnoses and treatments. Doctors have always absorbed the racial stereotypes and folkloric beliefs about racial differences that permeate the general population. Within the world of medicine this racial folklore has infiltrated all of the medical sub-disciplines, from cardiology to gynecology to psychiatry. Doctors have thus imposed white or black racial identities upon every organ system of the human body, along with racial interpretations of black children, the black elderly, the black athlete, black musicality, black pain thresholds, and other aspects of black minds and bodies. The American medical establishment does not readily absorb either historical or current information about medical racism. For this reason, racial enlightenment will not reach medical schools until the current race-aversive curricula include new historical and sociological perspectives.
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