Fat is bad, right? Well, no, being fat in and of itself is not bad. However, for
the last decade we have been so inundated with negative messages about fat that it is revolutionary to think
otherwise. These messages, this rhetoric, though not succeeding in making our society thinner or healthier,
have been a resounding success in making us believe that fat is a Very Bad Thing and that fat
people are Very Bad People. The rhetoric of the "war on obesity" has only succeeded in increasing
prejudice and decreasing health in the very people targeted for "help" while increasing profits for those
perpetuating such rhetoric.
In this book, Dr. McMichael examines the rhetorical success of the current
"obesity" propaganda while considering its absolute failure to make people thinner or to make a difference in
the health of the American people. Considering empirical studies and statistics as well as the actual
experience of fat people, McMichael asserts that the "obesity epidemic" is about many things—prejudice,
profit, control, etc., but it is not about health. Arguing that our current paradigm is only hurting
our society and the individuals within it, McMichael calls for a change in policy and perspective on fat
in American society.
PRAISE for Talking Fat
"Prejudice based on weight can act like a Gordian knot: loosen one part of the mess
and other strands of belief pull tighter. Lonie McMichael's brilliant analysis cuts through the
conundrum. This book's big-picture view of weight-centrism as both a rhetorical success and a
real-world failure will be endlessly useful to me as a fat activist and a person who wants to live
healthily and happily in my very own body."
author of Fat!So?
"McMichael provides a thorough and compelling expose of the prejudice that underlies
obesity rhetoric and a compassionate, tenable solution. This book may make you angry, but it will
also give you hope."
Linda Bacon, Ph.D. author of Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
"Words are the building blocks of our lives. The war on fat people that has been waged
the past two decades has been a war of words. Dr. McMichael writes eloquently and critically about those
fighting words, helping the reader understand what power structures lie behind our most commonly accepted
concepts. If we do not understand the how and the why behind speech, we may never know
truth. But when we trace the history of discourses, we open up possibilities of making a better place
through better conversations. Talking Fat is just that conversation starter."
Pattie Thomas, Ph.D.
author of Taking Up Space
"Dr. McMichael does a wonderful job of explaining the difference between the way fat
is talked about and the reality of fat's effect on health. This is a must read for fat folks,
health practitioners and anyone concerned with fair and equal treatment for all people.
Golda Poretsky, HHC
author of Stop Dieting Now: 25 Reasons To Stop, 25 Ways To Heal
"...McMichael's original contribution to the field, her rhetorical
analysis, will be of interest to established scholars and activists seeking critical tools
to fight the medicalization of fat....Given the authority that medicine
and scientific research hold in contemporary Western society and their influence
on understandings of bodies in particular, rhetorical analysis is an important tool
for anyone interested in the construction of contemporary embodiment
and especially for emancipatory projects such as the SA movement."
University of King's College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight & Society, Vol 2, issue