A manifesto for fat rights and freedom from the tyranny of diet, exercise, and body-image conformity.
Though Tovar (editor: Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion, 2012) spent two decades dieting to no avail, she has since devoted her energies to the emerging fields of fat scholarship and fat activism while celebrating her “Ultra Mega Badass Fat Babe Lifestyle,” which features “an anti-assimilationist framework that I [find] both familiar and wonderfully provocative.” In a short book filled with flurries of sharp jabs, the author emphasizes that discrimination against the fat is as insidious and repressive as that based on race, ethnicity, or gender. “Fatphobia,” writes Tovar, “is a bigoted ideology that positions fat people as inferior and as objects of hatred and derision. Fatphobia targets and scapegoats fat people, but it ends up harming all people….Because of the way fat people are positioned in our culture, people learn to fear becoming fat.” If there can be a healthy balance between diet and exercise on one end and cultural tyranny on the other, the author has no interest in finding it—or in recommending moderation in any form. Her more radical position is that emphasizing health and diet is just code for thin and that “diet culture is the marriage of the multi-billion-dollar diet industry (including fitness apps, over-the-counter diet pills, prescription drugs to suppress appetite, bariatric surgery, gyms, and gym clothiers) and the social and cultural atmosphere that normalizes weight control and fatphobic bigotry.” Thus, campaigns against childhood obesity (a euphemism for “fat”) isn’t a response to a health crisis but another attempt to perpetuate the body-image tyranny.
Whether or not Tovar convinces all readers that ignoring diet and exercise is the path to freedom, she offers psychological comfort to those who have been made to feel unworthy due to their body size and/or shape.