Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession

I’m reading Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession.  I think the book is trying to be shocking.  The first essay is about fat in Nigerian culture (good if you’re female, bad if you’re male).  Another is on the Andean legend of the pishtaco, a bogeyman whose objective is to extract fat from the bodies of his victims.  

But the one that’s boggled my mind is … Don Kulick‘s essay on fat porn.  See:

  • I knew porn with fat people existed.  
  • I’d seen photos of women my size and larger, dressed in lingerie, on various magazine covers.  
  • I’d encountered erotic stories with a “feeder”  theme.  

But what I hadn’t encountered is photos or videos of naked, 300lb+ fat women who are …  eating.  Happily eating.  Breakfast in bed, ice cream, burgers.  Enjoying and taking pleasure in their food.   

I know people who joke about The Food Network being “food porn”.  But this is porn that is, literally, food porn.  

*blink*

Kulick compares this with S&M, which often eroticizes things that aren’t, on their face, erotic.  He also notes this form of porn is focused on the women’s pleasure.  I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.  

The [PG] sample photos in the book are enough to tell me that this sort of thing doesn’t turn me on.  That’s okay, too.  I’m not one to quibble about what other consenting adults choose to do….but I do think it says something about our society that women eating food and enjoying it  is something people find erotic and pay money to see.

One thought on “Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession

  1. I’ve just read the book, too, and quite enjoyed it. The chapter that has stuck with me the most is the one called Talk. It’s about the way teenage girls in Sweden talk about their fat, but it could apply to girls in many Western countries. The casual cruelty of the whole ritual is quite depressing. That teenage girls spend a lot of time complaining to each other about their own fatness is nothing new, but the observation that it’s only socially permissible if one is not actually fat is. Apparently, they’re socially doomed if they even sit next to someone who’s chubby.
    The observer also notes that girls who are seen to like their own bodies become objects of derision. They are seen as arrogant, like boys. It’s a little frightening that there’s no room to opt out of the “game” if you don’t want to be an outcast.

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