'Unshrinking' Writer Suggests that Medicalization of Obesity Promotes Prejudice

Published: May. 4, 2024
Simon Wheeler/Simon Wheeler for Cornell University

In her latest book, "Unshrinking: How To Face Fatphobia", philosopher Kate Manne mercilessly dissects the society's obsession with the body size and its profound impact on the self-esteem of individuals living in larger bodies. The magnetic pull of the narrative prompts you to ask, what shocking revelations does the book contain about prevalent fat discrimination and the idea of health?

Manne, an acclaimed feminist author, talks candidly about her struggle with body-image issues and an insidious fixation to slim down. She admits to trying every fad diet and weight-loss pill, and even starving herself to attain the desired body size. Inherently, the book unveils the complex interplay between self-perception, societal standards, and health in ways you would have never imagined.

A riveting part of her analysis focuses on the discriminatory practices facing fat people. Manne delves into the heart-wrenching stories of discrimination faced by fat people in various facets of life, from workplaces to relationships. The bone-chilling part is how healthcare – a refuge in times of distress – becoming a place of prejudice and humiliation for such individuals.

With an intriguing yet shocking revelation, Manne suggests the link between health and weight is ambiguous, challenging the established notions. Then why, you may ask, are the doctors' offices among the most stigmatizing places for individuals with a larger body?

Manne explores these questions dauntingly, interviewing with NPR contributor and primary care physician Mara Gordon. The interview reveals horrifying truths, navigating fatphobia in its most raw and terrifying form. The paradoxes and the prejudices; nothing remains hidden as Manne dismantles the societal constructs one by one.

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