What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat (Paperback)
From the creator of Your Fat Friend and co-host of the Maintenance Phase podcast, an explosive indictment of the systemic and cultural bias facing plus-size people.
Anti-fatness is everywhere. In What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Aubrey Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people’s experiences. Unlike the recent wave of memoirs and quasi self-help books that encourage readers to love and accept themselves, Gordon pushes the discussion further towards authentic fat activism, which includes ending legal weight discrimination, giving equal access to health care for large people, increased access to public spaces, and ending anti-fat violence. As she argues, “I did not come to body positivity for self-esteem. I came to it for social justice.”
By sharing her experiences as well as those of others—from smaller fat to very fat people—she concludes that to be fat in our society is to be seen as an undeniable failure, unlovable, unforgivable, and morally condemnable. Fatness is an open invitation for others to express disgust, fear, and insidious concern. To be fat is to be denied humanity and empathy. Studies show that fat survivors of sexual assault are less likely to be believed and less likely than their thin counterparts to report various crimes; 27% of very fat women and 13% of very fat men attempt suicide; over 50% of doctors describe their fat patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly and noncompliant”; and in 48 states, it’s legal—even routine—to deny employment because of an applicant’s size.
Advancing fat justice and changing prejudicial structures and attitudes will require work from all people. What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat is a crucial tool to create a tectonic shift in the way we see, talk about, and treat our bodies, fat and thin alike.
About the Author
Aubrey Gordon writes under the pseudonym of “Your Fat Friend,” illuminating the experiences of fat people and urging greater compassion for people of all sizes. Her work has reached millions of readers and has been translated into 19 languages. She is co-host of the Maintenace Phase podcast and a columnist with SELF magazine. Her work has also been featured in Health magazine, Vox, and Gay Mag, among others. She lives in the Northwest, where she works as a writer and organizer. Connect with her at yourfatfriend.com, and as YrFatFriend on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
“Everyone who has a fat family member, friend, acquaintance, or coworker should read this insightful book.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
“Gordon provides candid storytelling and critical analysis in this validating and inclusive read.”
“Writing from a personal and cultural perspective, Gordon goes beyond cosmetic complaints to undress the depths of anti-fat bias and discrimination, ultimately rallying for a social justice movement to form and broaden the scope of the conversation.”
“Gordon seamlessly threads a personal narrative with data and history . . . A much-needed and accessible addition to fat discourse.”
—Ayu Sutriasa, YES! Magazine
ldquo;Few writers approach the realities of living in a fat body, the pernicious nature of fatphobia, and what it would take for our culture to radically reimagine our relationships to our bodies than Aubrey Gordon. . . . Gordon has crafted a manifesto on unapologetic fatness and fat justice. Her cultural criticism about bodies is timely, elegant, searing. This book is required reading for absolutely everyone. The wisdom Gordon offers in these pages is going to irrevocably change fat discourse, and it comes not a moment too soon.”
—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Hunger
“A deeply articulate, validating, and empowering read! Aubrey Gordon pushes the envelope beyond feel-good-Instagram-body-positivity and calls for structural change in our thinking, understanding, and treatment of fat bodies. Your fat friends need this book, but your thin friends need it even more.”
—Julie Murphy, author of Dumplin’
“It’s not often you find a book that’s going to save someone’s life. As a fat person, I felt heard and seen. . . . It’s like having a fat best friend on your bookshelf, ready to explain everything that you didn’t think you needed to know about fatness.”
—Sofie Hagen, author of Happy Fat: Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You
“An authoritative, forceful, splendidly written, and deeply moving account of the shockingly personal hostility she and other fat people must endure on a daily basis. You don’t have to agree with her interpretation of the research on fatness and its consequences to sign on to her thoroughly convincing demand for respect as a human being and for what she calls ‘fat justice.’ This book changed my thinking, and in the best possible way.”
—Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health, emerita, New York University, and author of Let’s Ask Marion
“We can’t universalize experience, and the default thin-centrism of the body positivity movement has failed all of us. Gordon’s spellbinding storytelling and vulnerability are compelling and transformative, buoyed by insightful critical analysis. . . . This book is a wake-up call to humanity and has the power to transform how we approach healthcare.”
—Lindo Bacon, PhD, scientist and author of Health at Every Size and Radical Belonging
“She’s one of the great writers of our generation, one of the great thinkers of our generation . . . I think I’ll never really be the same afterwards and I feel fresher and smarter and happier for sitting down with her.”
—Jameela Jamil, iWeigh Podcast