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What is fat activism and why is it important? To answer this question, Charlotte Cooper presents an expansive grassroots study that traces the forty-year history of international fat activism and grounds its actions in their proper historical and geographical contexts. She details fat activist methods, analyzes existing literature in the field, challenges long-held assumptions that uphold systemic fatphobia, and makes clear how crucial feminism and queer theory are to the lifeblood of the movement. She also considers fat activism’s proxy concerns, including body image, body positivity, the obesity epidemic, and fat stigma.
Combining rigorous scholarship with personal, accessible writing, Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement is not only an invaluable contribution to the burgeoning field of fat studies, but also a vehicle for much-needed social change.
About the Author
Charlotte Cooper is a psychotherapist, artist, and fat activist. She is the author of Fat Activist Vernacular and Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size.
"Cooper guides the reader into a fertile place of growth a million miles from timebombs and epidemics, and gives a human face to a large segment of the population who are too often dehumanised."
— The Lancet
“Not only offers a thorough history of the fat acceptance movement, which seeks to change societal attitudes towards fat people, but also provides insight into activist practices more broadly. . . . This accessible book [is] an important read for those working in the field of critical weight studies and fat studies and . . . show[s] how academic research can be mobilised to reach audiences beyond the academy. . . . Invaluable.”
— LSE Review of Books
"Traces fat activism's labyrinthine origins and development through its links to radical lesbian separatism both in the US and UK . . . . Cooper's writing style is refreshingly accessible, in a conversational tone that will ensure this book manages to appeal to activist readerships well beyond the narrow scope of academia. . . . It will be of particular interest to feminist scholars how Cooper manages to develop sharp critical analysis of what she identifies as problematic elements of the movement, including cultural imperialism, white supremacy, homogeneity and moralism, whilst still championing its value and necessity. The nuance with which Cooper navigates this thorny terrain is valuable for thinking about ongoing conflict within feminist debates on how we can reconcile the varied and often contradictory strands of past and present feminist thinking. . . . [The book's] contributions go well beyond the specificity of fat, making it a useful resource for anyone, inside or outside of academia, who is interested in activism, social movements, feminism and intersectionality."
— Feminist Review
"Explores a long-standing social movement, revealing complex relationships with feminism, class and capitalism . . . . Cooper provides both an account of a radical social movement and a consideration of how we might come to a broad but useful understanding of the nature of activism, through an examination of one of the less-prominent struggles of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries."
"Show[s] the diverse ways that people come to fat activism and how they see their experiences in relation to the movement. . . . Fat Activism provides the first critical framework for scholars and activists to examine the dynamics of the movement. . . . [Cooper] raises critical questions that will help to push the movement into new intellectual and activist terrain.”
— Women's Studies
"Cooper creates an arena for a more dynamic, comprehensive discourse that makes space for all types of experiences and voices in fat activist communities. . . . She is making space for fat activists to re-occupy the fat discourse."
— Canadian Food Studies
"An essential reference for those who want to know where the movement started and to get some ideas on where it can go from here. The breadth of Cooper’s research is amazing. Fat Activism is worth owning simply as a resource and a history of the movement."
— Body Impolitic
"Should be required reading for scholars and activists. Cooper draws on extensive interviews with fat activists to render a trenchant analysis of our field of motion. She takes a penetrating look at activist efforts and self-understandings, eschewing easy praise in favor of discernment that ultimately promises to invigorate the movement."
— Kathleen LeBesco, Marymount Manhattan College
"Cooper is once again in the vanguard of radical social change with this book . . . . She has captured the history of the fat rights movements, interviewed fat activists, and demonstrated the extensive and exciting breadth of fat activism in a global setting."
— Esther Rothblum, editor of Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society
"Anyone interested in the epistemology, ontology, and methodology, (not to mention history) of fat activism should make this a central text of their library."
— Cat Pausé, Massey University, coeditor of Queering Fat Embodiment
"Fat Activists need more researchers and writers examining and reflecting on our work from within, and this book stands as an offering and opening in that vein."
— Naima Lowe, Evergreen State College