In both contemporary medical and cultural discourse, a relationship between fatness and excess is often perceived to be self-evident. Being “overweight” is consistently connected to “overeating” and “overindulgence,” with the implication that if one simply ate less and practiced greater self-control they would lose weight and would stop being fat. Fat bodies may thus be perceived as transgressive since they are thought to transgress the norms of consumption. In the early modern period, however, the connection between excess and fat was not as straight-forward. While ideas about excess and excessive behavior permeated German-speaking society in the sixteenth century, excess was not always understood to result in fatness. Contemporary criticism of gluttony and drunkenness commented on the effects of such vices…

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I am a fat gamer. The “gamer” part is easy to write, the “fat” part does not come as easily and it still feels like admitting to a flaw. I have felt, like most gamers I assume, my share of guilt and even shame after I could not turn off whichever game had me sucked in and especially so, whenever I canceled social events in favor of a night with just myself, some food, and a video game. Fat-shaming, however, makes admitting to fatness much harder (in our cultures in the Global North). In identifying myself as fat, I build on work at the nexus of critical feminist, queer and fat studies; as Marilyn Wann has phrased it:  In fat studies, there…

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Three years ago, in August 2018, Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists gained international recognition when they missed school for three weeks to protest in front of the Swedish parliament, demanding a noticeable increase in political action to prevent climate change. While U.S. climate activism and its countermovement started to gain traction in the 1990s, the more recent protests in Sweden have inspired many people across the globe to follow suit, forming the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement. However, a rhetoric of anti-fatness and ableism threatens to undermine the movement’s attempt to engage a diverse group of people in its cause. With this blog post, I want to challenge the use of popular slogans like “BURN FAT, NOT OIL,”…

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The controversial documentary The Game Changers seeks to debunk the myth that plant-based proteins will never be as good as their animal counterpart. For those who have not seen the documentary, a quick look at the film poster might help to better understand what is at stake here: in the documentary, vegan athletes are depicted as so ultra-masculine that they also make their dietary choice “manly” and, therefore, do not challenge hegemonic ideals of masculinity. We see a strong arm, a clenched fist, and enlarged veins with green blood circulating through them. Next to this arm, green and white letters proclaim: “Fueled by the Truth: The Game Changers.” At first glance, the poster seems to announce a remake of the…

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In 1963, patriarchal social structures in the United States seemed to be getting stirred up by female voices challenging the hegemonic imaginary woman, when Betty Friedan published her seminal book The Feminine Mystique. That same year, Jean Nidetch started a company helping women reduce their body weight: Weight Watchers, now called WW. By losing weight, as Marisa Meltzer argues in her book This is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World (and Me) (2020), Nidetch “basically earned the American dream” (8) and then sold it as a commodity. Meltzer explains that “Jean had a Cinderella story for the ages. She was a maven and mogul who lost weight, spectacularly found her calling, and helped to create a national pastime and obsession that endures today” (276).…

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