Fat Aversion: The Greatest Infringement on Liberty

On it’s most basic level, freedom means the ability to do and be as one wants. America frequently construes itself as the “land of the free” and yet our own implementation of freedom finds a glaring oversight in the realm of the actual physical bodies of citizens. People do not have the freedom to be fat – as Wann cites, “landlords are 50 percent less likely to rent to an equally qualified fat person… fat men are 11 percent less likely to be married … the fatter a patient is, the more likely a surgeon is to leave sponges or even surgical instruments behind,” (Wann 20). Our society’s anti-fat bias has caused fatness to now associate with it a sense of danger and impracticality – a vicious cycle which further indoctrinates cultural ideas about the “dangers” of fatness. Notably, this emphasis on being thin has far reaching economic effects – as Hesse-Biber elucidates, “$132.3 million worth of liquid and powder weight-control products were sold in 2000,” (Hesse-Biber 68). Being skinny is expensive, thus establishing a social hierarchy in which one need be skinny effectively serves to also further divide the population along economic lines. It is this effect which actually causes the cultural aversion to fatness to bring about a violation of one of the most basis freedoms of American life – the freedom of class mobility.

 

Sources:

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene. The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 

 Wann, Marilyn. The Fat Studies Reader. New York and London: New York University Press.

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