Queering Fat Embodiment

Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes, and Samantha Murray have edited a collection entitled Queering Fat Embodiment, which "brings together the latest scholarship from various critical disciplines to challenge existing ideas of fat and fat embodiment. Shedding light on the ways in which fat embodiment is lived, experienced, regulated and (re)produced across a range of cultural sites and contexts, Queering Fat Embodiment destabilises established ideas about fat bodies, making explicit the intersectionality of fat identities and thereby countering the assertion that fat studies has in recent years reproduced a white, ableist, heteronormative subjectivity in its analyses."

I haven't yet read the anthology myself, but I wanted to bring it to your attention, as I imagine it may be of interest to a lot of readers here, given our many conversations on intersectionality, privilege within fat advocacy, natural alliances between cis fat and trans* people around bodily agency, and related topics.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction, "Why Queering Fat Embodiment?", written by Jackie Wykes, shared with the authors' permission:
Is fat queer? The specious stereotype of the fat lesbian who 'turns to women' because she's 'too ugly to get a man' suggests it may be. Conversely, even the most cursory analysis of contemporary Western media culture reveals that only slender bodies are presented as legitimate objects of heterosexual desire.

These brief examples begin to make apparent some of the ways in which compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory thinness are mutually constitutive.

…Questions of sexuality are always implicated in questions of the body, since 'any account of embodiment is also always an account of sexuality' (Grosz 1994: viii). Indeed, as many of the pieces in this collection show, body shape and size are profoundly implicated in questions of gender and sexuality, often in ways that are far more complex and intimate than the conventional discourses of 'body image' and 'self-esteem' can allow.

The pieces in this collection do not simply draw parallels between fat and queer experiences, investigate the intersection of fat and queer, or even argue that fat necessarily is queer (although these ideas are explored). Rather, the chapters in this collection point to the ways that heteronormativity operates as a regulatory apparatus which underwrites and governs the discourse on – and management of – the fat body.

Furthermore, fatness cuts across lines of gender, sexual orientation, class, race, and ability. While these 'identity-constituting, identity-fracturing discourses' many not necessarily be subsumed under gender and sexuality, they are, however, mutually implicated in the discursive and material construction and circulation of meaning, identity, and power that fall under the critical rubric of queer critique. Importantly, 'identity-constituting' discourses such as heterosexuality, able-bodiedness, whiteness, middle-classness and slimness are unmarked – they appear natural and universal and thus have a profoundly normative and disciplinary power. By 'bringing forth' these discourses and making their hidden assumptions visible, queering can work to destabilise normative categories and denaturalise dominant ways of seeing, doing, and being.

[Used by permission of the Publishers from Queering Fat Embodiment eds. Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes and Samantha Murray (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014). Copyright © 2014]
Amanda Levitt also has an excerpt here.

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