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Fat is a Feminist Issue


Susie Orbach’s stance on the rising American issue on obesity within her essay “Fat Is a Feminist Issue” can be similarly related to David Zinczenko’s stance in his essay “Don’t Blame the Eater.” In fact, she claims just that when writing, “A feminist perspective to the problem of women’s compulsive eating is essential if we are to move on from the ineffective blame-the-victim approach” (Orbach 448). In this quote she blatantly informs the reader that blaming the eater is not the correct approach to take. Instead, she provides another outlook to consider when analyzing the cause for overweight, specifically in women. This outlook is feminism. Society has monopolized American’s minds, creating a strict belief on how women should behave. In doing this, society has illustrated the image of the woman girls strive for every day. Within her essay she accomplishes her goal in providing information and data supporting her view that obesity among females can be defended. This is a unique and rational idea Orbach presents to the reader.

Instead of pointing fingers at the food industry as Zinczenko does within his essay, Orbach turns her eyes to the American people. She uncovers and discusses the pressures America places on women. Pressures like size, clothes and sexuality all play a role in American women’s lives. Orbach claims that if you are a true feminist, being overweight symbolizes your disproval of society’s opinion on how women should be. Thus, she describes it as being “a definite and purposeful act” (Orbach 449). It is purposeful because it serves as a physical way to silently protest against conformity.

In order for women to be successful, media claims that top-of-the-line hair products, clothes and make up are a necessity. Businesses thrive off of a woman’s insecurity. Make-up hides the problem, clothes cover the problem and hair products fix the problem. Similar to Zinczenko, Orbach touches on the fact that American women are becoming prey for.

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Fat is a FeministIssue ” Summary Susie Orbach writes about the reality that many women face with problems of obesity, overweight, social roles, and sex-stereotypes in the US. In “Fat is a FeministIssue ” the author writes in extend to the main problem that women face with overweight in America, how it has become a serious issue in the topic of obesity, and the typical “sex-role stereotypes” differences that exist today (449). Manipulated by media ads and the pressure on women to pursue the ideal physical and beauty appearance, Orbach claims that women have been the target of a “ten billion dollar industry waits to remold bodies to the latest fashion” year after year (451-52). In addition to this, Orbach gives us some background history on fashion and how media ads affected the thinking of those young ladies who lived in the 60’s and 70’s, where television started to be a mainstream along with magazines and radio. Orbach writes that in the 60’s, there were only three ways to “feel acceptable” within one’s society: to be skinny, flat chested and straight hair (451). By the 70’s the fashion was the opposite. Clearly, this statement clarifies the historical example of the classic American culture, slammed by media ads in which women are bombarded with new fashion styles and new trends every year. The fact of the matter is that Orbach claims that being fat is a.

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Fat Is Not a Feminist Issue

Fat Is Not a Feminist Issue

On Monday 28 November 2011 the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image began conducting an inquiry into the causes and consequences of body image anxiety in the UK, and what practical steps can be taken to address the issue; it appears that we need an inquiry for just about everything these days. On 16 January 2012 Susie Orbach, feminist and author of Fat Is a Feminist Issue, gave evidence declaring that slimming clubs lock their members into "straitjackets" of false hope and that we should all be accepted no matter what our shape and size. Although I get the idea behind the inquiry (there's no doubting body image is a huge talking point) I object to the idea that we should accept anyone no matter what their body weight; just last Thursday the NHS revealed in their Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet report that obesity is on the rise for both men and women. The fact is fat is not a feminist issue; it's a health issue.

I think that it's pretty obvious from my mug shot that I am a thin person. I have never been fat or worn clothes bigger than a size 10, controversial. However, until recently I was what I'd term an unhealthy thin person. I watched what I ate to be able to fit into my skinny jeans and did little or no exercise. Then, I got a place in this year's Great North Run, since this I have made a real effort to eat more healthily and get fit; and you know what, it's really bloody hard work. So far it's been cold, windy and involved a lot of vomit.

It would be much easier for me to keep to my dodgy diet of junk food and cigarettes but for my health that would be seriously bad news; and health, people, is what it's all about. I'm not just making a dig at all you that side on the cuddlier; being skinny isn't going to add years on to your life either. It is no healthier to have a plate of cucumber for lunch than it is a McDonalds, every day. This idea that it's part of the sisterhood to accept someone that's a size 22 or in contrast a size 6 is total bullshit. If you're that fat or that skinny then you have a problem. You have an eating disorder or disordered eating, if you prefer, and you are damaging your body.

I have witnessed people close to me struggle with their weight, desperate to lose a few pounds or even a few stone. My dad battled with the scales once he had stopped playing his weekend sports and suffered from depression. I know that there are reasons for some people finding it more difficult to control their weight than others, I really do; sadly it just means that you have to work even harder. Friends of mine have also fought against the wobble, I have seen them begin weight loss classes and then drop out of weight loss classes. I don't disagree with Orbach, in that they give their members false hope. I only know one person that has achieved their "goal weight". I believe that this was down to their own grit and determination, not because someone was forcing them onto a pair of scales every Tuesday. This person owes little to Weight Watchers, but deserves a massive pat on the back for their dedication and commitment. You have to really want it and she (in this case) did.

There's no denying that we, all of us, are struggling with warped perceptions of our bodies; women thinking that they're too fat but are a size 12 with a healthy BMI, men thinking that they need to exist on egg whites and protein shakes. None of us want to bring up a generation that is even more insecure and crazy than we are. How do we do this? Who knows? I personally don't feel that the media is totally to blame although like everything they play their part. Models in magazines have never made me want to drink hot water and lemon and hit up the Dukan diet; I can't speak for all women, obviously. I probably feel more affected by friends and acquaintances physical appearance. I always notice when they've gained or lost a few extra pounds and sometimes I even feel jealous. That jealousy isn't just about weight. I also feel it unfair when a friend gets a new car or handbag that I can't afford; I think that's (sadly) normal.

No man or woman should feel excluded or lambasted by society because of his or her size, but equally we must not get confused and pushed into believing that it's all about acceptance. Fat is no better than skinny, and I for one am bored of reading about anorexic celebs or people so obese that they can't work and need "rescuing" out of their own homes. Eating's a complicated issue and one which can't be solved overnight, but it's time for the nation to give itself a firm kick up the butt, sort itself out and get healthy. Because healthy will let you watch your children grow up, healthy will let you enjoy your retirement and healthy will let you meet your grandchildren, or at least give you the best chance of it.

Eating Disorders: A Feminist Issue Essay - Health Bulimia Anorexia Fe

Eating Disorders: A Feminist Issue Essay

Eating Disorders: A Feminist Issue

What is a feminist approach to understanding eating disorders? Not all feminists have the same understanding of eating disorders. There are many different theories that are prevalent in feminist literature today. This web page will explore some of the different feminist perspectives about the cause of eating disorders in our culture.

Power Control and obedience

In her book Unbearable Weight, Susan Bordo (1993) makes the argument that the fear of women's fat is actually a fear of women's power. Thus, as women gain power in society, their bodies dwindle and suffer. She states that "female hunger--for public power, for independence, for sexual gratification-- [must] be contained, and the public space that women be allowed to take up be circumscribed, limited. On the body of the anorexic woman such rules are grimly and deeply etched" (Bordo, 171).

Naomi Wolf (1991) has a similar explanation of the origin of eating disorders in her bestseller The Beauty Myth. She states: "a cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience" (Wolf, 187). Women who remain thin are being obedient; it is another way for patriarchy to control women. "If women cannot eat the same food as men, we cannot experience equal status in the community" (Wolf, 189).

Sexuality is another issue that feminist Naomi Wolf explores in an effort to understand the prevalence of eating disorders among women. "Fat is sexual in women. to ask women to become unnaturally thin is to ask them to relinquish their sexuality" (Wolf, 193). Women who develop eating disorders, especially anorexia, are denying their sexuality and natural female b.


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. disordered attitudes and behaviors. Psvchology of Women Quarteriv. 2-0, 2.

Goodman, Ellen. (1996). The skeleton look is in fashion. The Tennessean. June 1 1.

Mahowald. Mary Betody. (1995). To be or not to be a woman: anorexia nervosa, normative gender roles, and feminism. Nagging Questions. Ed. Dana E. Bushnell. Boston:

Rowman Er Littlefield. Martz, D. M. Handley, K. B. Er Eisler, R. M. (1995). The Relationship between feminine gender role stress, body image, and eating disorders. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 4.

Morris, B. J. (1985). The phenomena of anorexia nervosa: a feminist perspective. Feminist Issues, 5, 2.

Orbach, Susie. (1978) Fat Is A Feminist Issue. New York: Berkeley Press.

Swartz, L. (1985). Is thin a feminist issue? Women's Studies International Forum, 8. 5.

Wolf, Naomi. (1991). The Beauty Myth. NewYork: Doubleday.

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