Fat (Paperback) book cover


By Deborah Lupton

© 2013 – Routledge

123 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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In contemporary western societies the fat body has become a focus of stigmatizing discourses and practices aimed at disciplining, regulating and containing it. Despite the fact that in many western countries fat bodies outnumber those that are thin, fat people are still socially marginalized and treated with derision and even repulsion. Medical and public health experts insist that an ‘obesity epidemic’ exists and that fatness is a pathological condition which should be prevented and controlled.

Fat is a book about why the fat body has become so reviled and viewed as diseased, the target of such intense discussion and debate about ways to reduce its size down to socially and medically acceptable dimensions. It is also about the lived experience of fat embodiment: how does it feel to be fat in a fat-phobic society? Deborah Lupton explores fat as a cultural artefact: a bodily substance or body shape that is given meaning by complex and shifting systems of ideas, practices, emotions, material objects and interpersonal relationships.

Fat reviews current scholarship and research into obesity discourse and politics, drawing upon critical perspectives offered in the humanities and social sciences and by fat activism and the size acceptance movement. It will be an engaging introduction for the interested general reader, as well as for students across the humanities and social sciences.


'…a book which provides a handy, succinct and lively coverage of recent developments related to fatness, from medical discourses including the “obesity epidemic", critical weight studies and fat activism.'

'Fat is an excellent introduction to the study area: it is comprehensive, extremely well written and engaging throughout…. Moreover, the vast range of critical perspectives given alongside examination of popular culture and political activism make the text thoroughly relevant and a particularly worthy starting point for undergraduate readers or those new to the study of identity.'

-Sarah Burton, University of Glasgow, in the LSE Review of Books, posted 14 Jan 2013

"Fat is a comprehensive and highly useful introductory text, based on the most updated literature. It greatly facilitates our understanding of the complex ways by which fat stigma and weight bias are enacted in western, contmporary societies, and the various responses to this reality."— Maya Maor, Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Thinking About Fat: A Review of Different Perspectives 3. Governing Fat Bodies 4. The Transgressive Fat Body 5. Being/Feeling Fat 6. Reframing Fat: Fat Activism and Size Acceptance Politics. Concluding Comments. Bibliography. Webliography. Glossary of Key Terms.

About the Author

Deborah Lupton is in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney. She is an internationally renowned sociologist and the author/co-author of eleven other books, including Medicine as Culture, Risk, Risk and Everyday Life (with J Tulloch), The Imperative of Health, The New Public Health (with A Petersen) and Food, the Body and the Self. Her current research interests are in the sociocultural dimensions of medicine, public health, embodiment, risk and the family.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HEALTH & FITNESS / Healthy Living
HEALTH & FITNESS / Weight Loss
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Physical
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Feminism & Feminist Theory
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Lesbian Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies


Fat: An interview with Deborah Lupton