Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 2.34 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West [Paperback]

Peter N. Stearns

RRP: 14.99
Price: 14.63 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
You Save: 0.36 (2%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 31 July? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 12.33  
Hardcover 56.00  
Paperback 14.63  
Trade In this Item for up to 2.34
Trade in Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West for an Amazon Gift Card of up to 2.34, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

30 Sep 2002
The modern struggle against fat cuts deeply and pervasively into American culture. Dieting, weight consciousness, and widespread hostility toward obesity form one of the fundamental themes of modern life. "Fat History" explores the meaning of fat in contemporary Western society and illustrates how progressive changes, such as growth in consumer culture, increasing equality for women, and the refocusing of women's sexual and maternal roles have influenced today's obsession with fat. Brought up-to-date with a new preface and filled with narrative anecdotes, "Fat History" explores fat's transformation from a symbol of health and well-being to a sign of moral, psychological, and physical disorder.

Frequently Bought Together

Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West + The Metamorphoses of Fat: A History of Obesity (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism)
Buy the selected items together


Product details


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

"Provides an innovative explanation of the modern preoccupation with dieting that fundamentally revises our understanding of the timing, intensity, and significance of the modern American culture of weight loss." --Journal of American History "Offers new, reliable information and insights."--The Nation

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.co.uk.
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars U.S. Attitude Toward Fat Is Not the Only Game in Town 6 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There are very few books on the history of our cultural obsession with weight and/or with "weight bigotry" in the U.S. When did it start? Why? How did it get so vehement? So an attempt at perspective is definitely welcome.
Stearns reports that before the 1890s, plumpness was preferred, and signals began to change only as fashions, fat-control devices, and increased public comment on fat began to emerge in the decade prior to 1900.
After that, the trend grew and intensified over an entire century. Stearns sees this growing obsession as a "compensation" for our indulgence in other pleasures about which we are ambivalent--consumerism, sex, women's freedom. As long as we demonstrate strict discipline about our body size as a kind of puritanical guilt-laden compensation, we can allow ourselves these other indulgent, consumerist pleasures.

Stearns likens the vehemence of fat hatred to Calvinism: only the elect (thin) are "saved," glorified through "salvation" stories of heroic weight loss, and rewarded with welcome entry to the cultural pleasures now available. Those who fail or refuse to measure up to the strict standards of slenderness are punished by being relegated to "fat hell" where open season--in the form of attacks and endless analyses of moral failings, character flaws, and psychological weaknesses--is allowed, imprisoning the recalcitrants in the consequences of their supposedly deplorable lack of self-discipline. Clothes, love, and the good life are not to be theirs.
By way of contrast, the French, who have equally strict standards of slenderness, are committed not to compensation for other pleasures but to high aesthetic standards of beauty. In France, fat is not an indication of moral or psychological weakness but is simply an offense against beauty--fat is just ugly. Divergence from the norm is not considered blameworthy but is assumed to be remedied fairly easily with a little restraint and maybe some reducing creams. With a little work, no one *need* be ugly. It is, therefore, the personal responsibility of each individual to make those moderate efforts and meet the beauty standards amidst an environment of reminders and encouragement.
The result? Both patterns are oppressive, unrelenting, and rigid, but the French are 14 pounds lighter on average and weight in France has been declining rather than increasing.
Stearns does not see that historical French patterns or approaches can be adopted in the U.S. However, he notes that merely recognizing another, different pattern opens the door for reconsideration of U.S. attitudes. Those attitudes were shaped over a century; they can also be reshaped.
Stearns believes that we place too much responsibility on individuals for what are, essentially, social issues. To require everyone to immerse themselves in personal battles against weight while indulgence and excess in all other areas remains unaddressed in the public arena seems not only unfair but unbalanced. Basically, Stearns hopes we will lighten up a little on individual weight issues and look more seriously at larger cultural indulgences.
Simply for the effort to bring historical perspective to the issue, the book gets four stars. But it is sometimes a frustrating read. It is fraught with equivocations and reminders that many factors are at play, all of which preclude crispness. It is not until the very end that clarity begins to emerge from the discussion.
And finally, it describes the scene without benefit of factors that could, conceivably, change all the rules and the analysis as it relates to new trends. If, as research is increasingly showing, fat and related major diseases are common in cultures based on animal-based diets and uncommon in cultures based on plant-based diets, the emphasis shifts from "how much" one is eating to "what" one is eating; from "restraint" to "plenty" without weight gain.
Such a major shift in our understanding of food, nutrition, disease, body weight, and nutrition medicine would shift blame from individuals to a diet that we thought served us but in fact did not. This would chart a very different course--and analysis--for the new century.
13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow start with interesting conclusion 24 Sep 2000
By Ricky Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It was difficult rating this book as it took much longer than normal for me to finish reading it (finishing many other books while working on this one) but I tremondousl enjoyed the last part of the book. It takes a slow approach. First, it looks at the United States during this century and then it examines France in the same time period. This is supposed to represent the modern West as France is the thinnest of the western countries and the United States the most obese and the book looks for a cultural explanation for this phenomemon. It was slow going. It could be because I was looking for a historical attack on body fascists (possibly to assuage guilt over my own body image) and that is certainly not with what the book is concerned. The last two chapters are the best and bring the points made previously forward very clearly and, even, add what seem even more relevant arguments. There are not very many hard statistics and the history of science is blended a litle too much with the history of culture but the book does make very interesting points.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback