cover image Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia

Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia

Kate Manne. Crown, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-59383-7

Philosopher Manne (Down Girl) returns with an impassioned but somewhat overextended treatise against fatphobia, which she contends is rampant across society, including in education, healthcare, the job market, and the dating sphere. Drawing on a wide range of literature, philosophy, sociological studies, and personal anecdotes, Manne shows how widespread and insidious is the assumption that weight reflects willpower, self-control, and moral fiber, and contends that fatphobia has historically been used as a means of race, class, and gender discrimination. She uses her own experiences of navigating fatphobia as the scaffolding of the book, arguing that when fat people’s personal stories are ignored, it is a form of “testimonial injustice.” She also argues directly against medical justifications for promoting an ideal body weight by citing studies that assert weight is largely based on genetics and unaffected by dietary habits, and that higher weight is not as clearly correlated with negative health outcomes as is commonly believed. While Manne’s debunking of what she considers the myth of the obesity crisis is a thought-provoking exercise, it can feel as if to make her point she understates the structural social injustices, such as poverty and discrimination, that can lead to food inequality, food insecurity, and unequal access to healthcare. Ultimately, this fails to convince. (Jan.)