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I felt like a witch surrounded by torch-wielding villagers.
It was clear that even for many urban sophisticates paying to attend a festival about difficult ideas, thinking about fat as anything but bad was borderline impossible.
One girl would only spell it out, “F-A-T,” the way one does with other bad words. Americans are obsessed with obesity, yet actual fat people are largely absent from our cultural landscape.
In a culture where most fat people in the media have missing heads — the anonymous, decapitated, interchangeable blobs whose photos accompany scary news stories about obesity — a fat woman with a voice can be threatening, not just to bullies, misogynists and anti-obesity crusaders, but to many of those who consider themselves to be enlightened, too.
I sometimes think it would be easier to be one of those anonymous, headless fat people.
With few exceptions, most of the fat people we do see in the media and pop culture hate their bodies, from the contestants paraded around like circus animals on “The Biggest Loser” to celebrities who flog themselves in nationally televised weight-loss commercials.
Americans expect and enjoy the spectacle of the miserable fat person, so to challenge this narrative is a radical act.
I get asked questions more appropriate for a therapist or a nutritionist than a novelist.