Fighting Fat: Canada, 1920-1980
Published: August 2018© 2018
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 456 Pages
Dimensions: 5.90 x 9.00
456 Pages, 5.90 x 9.00 x 1.20 in
While the statistics for obesity have been alarming in the twenty-first century, concern about fatness has a history. In Fighting Fat, Wendy Mitchinson discusses the history of obesity and fatness from 1920 to 1980 in Canada. Through the context of body, medicine, weight measurement, food studies, fat studies, and the identity of those who were fat, Mitchinson examines the attitudes and practices of medical practitioners, nutritionists, educators, and those who see themselves as fat.
Fighting Fat analyzes a number of sources to expose our culture’s obsession with body image. Mitchinson looks at medical journals, both their articles and the advertisements for drugs for obesity, as well as magazine articles and advertisements, including popular "before and after" weight loss stories. Promotional advertisements reveal how the media encourages negative attitudes towards body fat. The book also includes over 30 interviews with Canadians who defined themselves as fat, highlighting the emotional toll caused by the stigmatizing of fatness.
1. Nutrition Policy: "Dietetic Missionaries"
2. About Obesity
3. Causes of Obesity
4. Treatment: "Stubbornly resistant to treatment"
5. "Dietary drug land" and Surgery
6. Infant, Child, and Teen Obesity
7. Body Image
8. Narratives of Fat Canadians
Notes on Sources
"Fighting Fat is a pithy, readable text that is deeply researched and clearly argued. For Canadian historians, the book connects weight and dieting to other social histories of class, gender, moral regulation, and health. For international scholars, the book provides an interpretive framework for understanding the medical history of "obesity." Mitchinson categorizes and classifies weight in new ways. She names and then deconstructs gaps in medical logic, ambiguities, and failures in clear and explicit terms that can be applied in other national and disciplinary contexts."Jenny Ellison, Fat Studies
"As a historian, Wendy Mitchinson is clearly knowledgeable about biological and environmental aspects of weight and weight loss, and places all the sub-topics about weight into historical context. Extremely well written, Fighting Fat focuses on gender, motherhood, and ethnicity, and how the culture of weight loss acts upon these groups."Esther Rothblum, Department of Women’s Studies, San Diego State University
"Fighting Fat contributes to a growing body of scholarship in the fields of medical history, cultural history, and fat studies, and is one of the first books to cover obesity in Canada."Elena Levy-Navarro, Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
- Winner -
2019 Jason A. Hannah Medalawarded by The Royal Society of Canada