PDF | The proposition that fat is a feminist issue is almost an axiom within the feminist literature. And yet, different feminist scholars see fat as a feminist issue for. PDF | Although research and scholarship on weight-based stigma have increased help book, Fat is a Feminist Issue (), perhaps the best. Fat Is a Feminist Issue Paperback – January 1, Reflecting on our increasingly diet and body-obsessed society, Susie Orbach's new introduction explains how generations of women and girls are growing up absorbing the eating anxieties around them. Never before has the "Fat is.

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When it was first published, Fat Is A Feminist Issue became an instant classic and it is as relevant today as it was then. Updated throughout, it. Susie Orbach is a psychotherapist, writer and co-founder of The Women's Therapy Centre in London and New York. In this extract from Fat Is A Feminist Issue. Fat is a feminist issue by Susie Orbach; 19 editions; First published in ; Subjects: Food habits, Mental health, Obesity, Obesity in women, Overweight.

This industry capitalises on the post-Christmas and pre-summer holiday market with unrealistic promises of instant weight loss. But our body has quite natural mechanisms for coping with the extra food we eat at different times of the year. It simply speeds up our metabolism until our weight restabilises itself. Equally when we eat less food than our body requires, our metabolism slows as though it were protecting us from the effects of famine.

Each of us has a set point which regulates our body size to within a few pounds or kilos.

A quick reminder ... Fat is a Feminist Issue

When we consistently interfere with it by continually eating more than our body can handle or when we choose to diet many times a year, if not almost permanently, the thermostat that resets our metabolic rate as our eating varies, gives up or gets stuck at the lower rate and dieting then produces its opposite result, weight gain rather than weight loss. In fact repeated dieting is one of the most effective ways to put on weight. Dieting, as I argue in this book, is a recipe for increasing eating problems.

It doesn't deal with the underlying reasons why people eat when they aren't hungry, and the solution it offers creates a bigger problem in its wake. Eating has become a psychological, moral, medical, aesthetic and cultural statement. Eating certain foods has become equated with moral value. To eat them is to wrong; to refrain is to accord oneself a sense of goodness.

Thin is wise; fat is bad.


Dieting, the interfering with one's appetite to ensure that one is not eating too much, functions as a sort of guarantee that one is on the correct path. In an age of obesity, it is offered as the righteous alternative. Undoubtedly, the explosion of obesity is a major cause for concern. We know that there are many more obese people in the west than 30 years ago. We know that certain fats and sugars, particularly of the long shelf life variety, coupled with a sedentary life make our bodies work less efficiently.

We also know that the extreme pressure on people to be thin in part creates a mindset that they are fat when they are not fat.

This mindset, this sense that one is too large or too fat, has penetrated into our awareness so that girls and women, boys and men, become increasingly self conscious of their body size. What is less clear though is why our governments are trumpeting an obesity epidemic rather than focusing on the rather more widespread and often more hidden problems of troubled eating which beset so many.

From social media to the catwalk, is fantasy beauty failing young women?

It is this hidden problem of troubled eating which is the true public health emergency and epidemic that needs confronting. The haunting belief that undermines the eating and well-being of those whose appetites and eating might otherwise be perfectly harmonious, is, as I have said, infecting the next generation too.

Before they even know about categories of fat and thin, their early life experiences are imbued with anxiety around food and eating, thus making them easy prey for the merchants of body insecurity.

Fat is no longer an objective word meaning adipose tissue. It is a word heavily laden with negative value and discomforting emotions.

Culturally we find fat such an affront; negativity screams so intensely from the word that we are unable to sort out the facts from the fantasies. We've become accustomed to training our eyes on the tobacco industry's nefarious doings, and the escapades of the food industry show that their methods for increasing revenue are equally appalling.

But let's not let the other players out of our sight who are also responsible for driving the Obesity Agenda and categorising it as the number one health problem in the western world. Obesity isn't. The new rise in obesity is not simple growth, it is largely also due to the Body Mass Index the BMI being revised downwards over the past six years.

If you are Brad Pitt or George Bush, you are now considered overweight. If you are as substantial as Russell Crowe, you are obese.

In her book Dispensing with the Truth, Alice Mundy details the million dollar funding that commercial weight loss groups contributed to Shape up America, a group which was part of a strategy to turn obesity into a disease which can be treated by the pharmaceutical, diet and medical industries medicine is an industry in the States.

You can be fat, fit and healthy. Body fascism and the tyranny of thin and the sense that we should all be one size is not only unrealistic, it is unhealthy and unattainable. But despite the fact that one size does not fit all, the desire to conform and to see reflected back in our mirrors an approximation of what we see on billboards, magazines and screens is compelling.

The uniformity of the visual imagery that we are exposed to reconstructs our relationship to our bodies. We may think it doesn't, we may think that ads are just a bit of fun, but now we have evidence that tells us that we have been seriously underestimating the impact that visual culture has on us. In , only three years later, This shocking fact reverberates in my mind when I try to understand the growth of eating and body image problems today and the factors that have accelerated them globally.

It is not only key for the young women of Fiji, it is key for young women in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Europe, North and South America, and increasingly those countries brought into globalism.

When one considers the facts from Fiji alongside the phenomenon of 35, cases of women's noses being reshaped in Iran under the Hijab, and Chinese women's legs being broken and prostheses inserted in order to create a few extra centimetres of height, and Japanese women thinking they are too fat, a picture emerges of body insecurity, even body hatred, becoming a major export of the western world.

What binds people together in a superficial way in the enormous global village is an ability to identify with and recognise one another speedily through consumerism and specifically through the brands, clothes, food and music we wear, eat or listen to.

Fat Is A Feminist Issue

In this global marketplace a woman's body shape has in itself become a brand, her brand, her membership and entitlement to occupy space. Her body has to fit for the individual to feel she belongs and is recognised as belonging.

As women have fought to expand the ways in which they can act in and on the world, they have been given back a picture of femininity that is ever more homogeneous and diminutive.

Yes, diversity appears to rule because models of all colours and ethnic groups now promote today's look, but the ethnic variations are all circumscribed within a small body variation whose main architecture is skinny and long.

In the last few years we have seen the idea of beauty democratised to include all people, not just the glamorous, or perhaps it is better to say that glamour has become more readily available and felt to be essential to more and more people. However, sadly and perplexingly, this idea of democracy has simultaneously arisen with a narrowing of the ideals of beauty, so that while people wish to include themselves, they are likely to feel inadequate if they fail to meet that narrow ideal.

Don't get me wrong, as an overeater I think much of the analysis of overeating rings utterly true with my experience, and obviously in her long history of psychotherapy practice Susie Orbach already knows this. But I did have a problem with some of the approach and terminology.

Particularly in the first book I found myself thinking there was plenty of encouragement to set up self-help groups, but little guidance. This is remedied in the practical follow-up, but it still feels quite vague.

Perhaps this is because a group like this should have a qualified leader. So many of the examples given were great, and very positive, but in real life it just seems so unlikely that a random group can keep everyone on the journey and always been practical and supportive. I'm not a mental health professional, but I do think that there is a real skill needed to drive group therapy and ensure it's always positive and action-orientated rather than providing an outlet for discussing issues and then just fixating on them.

I thought there was a danger following this particularly if you do it on your own that all that will happen is that you'll recognise your fears surrounding fat, and then stop there. The other problem I had was the feeling that it was about 'losing the weight'.

This phrase - and how much do I hate 'the weight' as a phrase? As if it's a separate and specific entity - appears repeatedly and it's almost as if Orbach is guaranteeing that if you free yourself of your overeating demons, you'll just be the thin self you've been afraid of.

But that's simply not true.

You might lose weight.The latest celebrity craze for having elective caesarean deliveries at 36 weeks is designed to avoid the increase in weight associated with the last month of pregnancy and lose that tummy more quickly, although most women don't significantly gain weight in the last two weeks anyway.

You might not. I'm not a mental health professional, but I do think that there is a real skill needed to drive group therapy and ensure it's always positive and action-orientated rather than providing an outlet for discussing issues and then just fixating on them.

Friend Reviews. As these wider images of beauty become more commonplace, girl's and women's feelings about themselves and their bodies will change, and we can look forward to a reduction in those who try to manipulate their food to affect a lower than average weight.

To eat them is to wrong; to refrain is to accord oneself a sense of goodness. However, what bothered me when I was reading this book was that no women which history was told in the book, was really fat.

Shockingly, the example is all too often followed by pregnant women who can afford this option. As an example, she points to weight-loss programs promoted by the Mautner Project the National Lesbian Health Organization that are premised on the belief that being fat is unhealthy.

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