Where does fatphobia come from?

Discussion in 'Daily Living' started by Benny Mon, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. Dec 15, 2018 #1

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    I wonder a lot about the origin of fatphobia. Why does the modern world prize thinness over all else, especially when in so many other eras and places plumpness, even true fatness was a sign of wealth, power, and prestige?

    The explanation I hear most often is that it's because of the diet and weight loss industry, which are invested in keeping us all enslaved to the endless struggle to slim down. I think there's a lot to that, but it doesn't explain why fatness specifically is the enemy here. It could just as easily have been the other way around: I can imagine a diet industry that hates thinness and promotes fatness. In reality I think the diet industry is responding to some kind of pre-existing economic demand for thinness. What I don't know is where that demand comes from, or why in the modern world so many hate fat and love thinness.

    So, where do you think fatphobia comes from?
     
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  2. Dec 21, 2018 #2

    LifelongFA

    LifelongFA

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    I think you alluded to it in your commentary: I believe most of it comes from the bill of goods that Madison Avenue has been selling us in the United States for many decades - fat people are second class citizens when it comes to love, success, health and happiness. If you don't have all of these in spades, it is probably because you aren't thin or thin enough.

    This message has been so ingrained into every aspect of life that I am sure many people don't even stop to question it. As a result, many are fearful of becoming fat themselves and to some degree are less likely to see fat people as equals, and therefore less desirable as friends, lovers, etc.
     
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  3. Dec 21, 2018 #3

    AmyJo1976

    AmyJo1976

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    I struggled with the fear of being fat all through my teens and twenties. It didn't matter how skinny I was, it was never enough. It was ingrained into your head to look a certain way, at least when I was younger. It may still be that way now, I just don't pay attention to it anymore.
     
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  4. Dec 21, 2018 #4

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Why do you think it resonates, though? I think the story about marketing and the diet industry explains *how* we become fatphobic, but I want to better understand *why* fat is such an object of fear in the modern world.
     
  5. Dec 21, 2018 #5

    agouderia

    agouderia

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    Regarding this issue, I think that you have to differentiate between body ideals and the social processes behind fatphobia.
    And they are a lot older than Madison Ave.

    As mentioned in another thread, it's a myth that fat was always prized in history back to antiquity.
    The fuller to fat physique, that was appreciated was never anyway near what is Dims fat - but we're talking roughly about today's BMI 25-30 overweight category. During the longest periods in history, people were totally anti-body and did not deal with the human form at all.
    In essence, our body ideals have their origin in classic Greek sculpture - think the Hermes of Praxiteles or the Venus of Milo - so have been around for about 2400 years. If you have a figure like these statues today - you're considered fine, even if it's not the current "couture thin" ideal.

    That indeed is a response to 20th/21st century sudden over-supply of food. Ideals are always something that is difficult to attain giving the living circumstances. Rubens' times - 1st half of the 17th century - were horrific ones, with a 30 years war destroying Central Europe. Food and comfort were scarce - so logically the almost impossible to achieve plumpness was prized.

    On the side of the social process - human society values conformity as a unifying factor. And it is always easier to unite people against something than for something.
    Since many conditions people have commonly been united against have been exposed for what they are - racism, anti-semitism, sexism, etc - or have been understood as illnesses - drug use, alcoholism - or have become marginal - smoking - fatphobia unfortunately remains as the only still socially and politically acceptable cause.
     
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  6. Dec 21, 2018 #6

    Benny Mon

    Benny Mon

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    Now this makes some sense to me. The change in food supply is one of the big changes of modern times.
     

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