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Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement

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Charlotte Cooper, a fat activist with more than 30 years experience, lifts the lid on a previously unexplored social movement and offers a fresh perspective on one of the major problems of our times. In her expansive, intelligent grassroots study she: - Reveals details of fat activist methods and approaches - Features extensive accounts of fat activist historical roots goi Charlotte Cooper, a fat activist with more than 30 years experience, lifts the lid on a previously unexplored social movement and offers a fresh perspective on one of the major problems of our times. In her expansive, intelligent grassroots study she: - Reveals details of fat activist methods and approaches - Features extensive accounts of fat activist historical roots going back over four decades - Explores controversies and tensions in the movement - Shows that fat activism is an undeniably feminist and queer phenomenon Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement is a rare instance of fat people speaking about their lives and politics on their own terms. The book is the result of Charlotte's community-based doctoral research.


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Charlotte Cooper, a fat activist with more than 30 years experience, lifts the lid on a previously unexplored social movement and offers a fresh perspective on one of the major problems of our times. In her expansive, intelligent grassroots study she: - Reveals details of fat activist methods and approaches - Features extensive accounts of fat activist historical roots goi Charlotte Cooper, a fat activist with more than 30 years experience, lifts the lid on a previously unexplored social movement and offers a fresh perspective on one of the major problems of our times. In her expansive, intelligent grassroots study she: - Reveals details of fat activist methods and approaches - Features extensive accounts of fat activist historical roots going back over four decades - Explores controversies and tensions in the movement - Shows that fat activism is an undeniably feminist and queer phenomenon Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement is a rare instance of fat people speaking about their lives and politics on their own terms. The book is the result of Charlotte's community-based doctoral research.

30 review for Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement

  1. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Bloviating and Grueling I have never in all my years as an English literature major, avid reader, fat woman... never have I seen such a self-aggrandizing writing. And I had to suffer through Hemingway. She claims this is research but I couldn’t make it past the first chapter where her incessant bloviating about herself, her old dead projects, her research she did for a PhD once. It goes in circles with an endless sea of I-statements. She’s supposed to be talking about her research methodologies a Bloviating and Grueling I have never in all my years as an English literature major, avid reader, fat woman... never have I seen such a self-aggrandizing writing. And I had to suffer through Hemingway. She claims this is research but I couldn’t make it past the first chapter where her incessant bloviating about herself, her old dead projects, her research she did for a PhD once. It goes in circles with an endless sea of I-statements. She’s supposed to be talking about her research methodologies and proxies. It’s simultaneously grueling/boring and condescending as she’s writing in an incredibly casual style while using terms no one understands. Read this book with a glass of water, though, because this book is DRY. I have a problem with this book never actually defining what fat activism is. But she goes through and puts down absolutely everyone else, every other idea, every work as being inadequate... except her own. Even though she’s referencing dead projects that she admits are outdated and dead. She spends two entire pages on “this is what my fat activism looked like in 2011”, but it’s just an itinerary of her incredibly unrelatable day. This book says thin people shouldn’t get to write much research on fat people because they don’t experience fatness and their research becomes unrelatable. This author is completely unrelatable. This isn’t research. I’m a nurse. I know what research looks like. This is an unrelatable woman self-aggrandizing and calling it science. Just write an autobiography and stop whatever this book is supposed to be. I just wasted hours of my life reading “I did this... I did that... I think this and that and everyone else is wrong because of research parlance”. I’m sorry I bought this book. I’m sorry I read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mia Westrap

    I would probably give this a 3.5/5 but not a 4. There’s many chapters of this book I enjoyed, specifically the historical elements of the book. There was however a few uncomfortable comparisons made towards the end between fatphobia and racism that didn’t sit right with me and weren’t developed further.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Bridson

    Accessible read for those with some political/historical theory background and a great dip into fat activism. Nonetheless, I think this would be a great read for anyone interested.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Someone I follow on Twitter posted a picture of this quote from this book so naturally I bought it right away: "But this is not a book about obesity, a word I use to describe the idea that fatness is a problem in need of a solution, or the obesity epidemic, a rhetorical device to leverage fat panic. Although there is plenty that is awful about how fat people are treated, that awfulness is not at the heart of this book either. I think of shame as political, not a natural inevitability. I am not go Someone I follow on Twitter posted a picture of this quote from this book so naturally I bought it right away: "But this is not a book about obesity, a word I use to describe the idea that fatness is a problem in need of a solution, or the obesity epidemic, a rhetorical device to leverage fat panic. Although there is plenty that is awful about how fat people are treated, that awfulness is not at the heart of this book either. I think of shame as political, not a natural inevitability. I am not going to explore whether or not fat people are healthy, the prime concern in the world of obesity, although I am very much interested in how fat people cope with being treated as unhealthy. Neither will I explore whether or not fat people are a drain on resources, a factor in global warming, a symptom of over-consumption or a product of obesogenic environments. People preoccupied with how fat people can be caused, managed, and prevented will not find much about it here." So I really wanted to love it but some of the things Cooper chose to focus on had me puzzled or didn't quite sit right for ways I can't articulate yet. I'll probably revisit some parts to see if I interpreted them wrong (the language is hella academic and I'm rusty) I did find the chapters "Doing" and "Accessing" to be overall helpful and important, particularly the validation of micro and cultural activism. They even gave me some ideas for stuff I could do as I've been veering more toward those forms of activism than traditional organizing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    rabble.ca

    http://rabble.ca/books/reviews/2016/0... Review by Laura Brightwell After reading Charlotte Cooper's new book, Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement, I found it difficult to summarize what fat activism is for readers who may be new to the concept. Cooper intentionally shows fat activism to be multifaceted. For her, fat activism can range from the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement, to fatshion (a portmanteau of fat and fashion) to the stage persona of Beth Ditto, lead singer of indie rock band http://rabble.ca/books/reviews/2016/0... Review by Laura Brightwell After reading Charlotte Cooper's new book, Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement, I found it difficult to summarize what fat activism is for readers who may be new to the concept. Cooper intentionally shows fat activism to be multifaceted. For her, fat activism can range from the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement, to fatshion (a portmanteau of fat and fashion) to the stage persona of Beth Ditto, lead singer of indie rock band Gossip, who is well known for unapologetically strutting her fat naked stuff on stage. It turns out that fat activism is not reducible to one thing and is susceptible to the internal contradictions and misdirected political intentions of any contemporary activist movement. Cooper is a prolific writer, activist and cultural worker. Fat Activism originates from her doctoral research at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Originally asked to study fat discrimination in the dietetic clinic, Cooper intentionally shifted her research to fat activism. This shift allowed her to place fat people at the centre of knowledge about themselves. Rather than reproducing fat people's helplessness and marginalization via the power of the non-fat, medical expert, exploring the history of fat activism allowed Cooper to focus on fat feminist perspectives. As a self-identified fat person and fat activist herself, Cooper's project originates from the community to which it speaks. It is a rare instance of knowledge production by and for fat people. Read more here: http://rabble.ca/books/reviews/2016/0...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claire Bracegirdle

    Really engaging & accessible read. Some things I particularly liked: Cooper's reflections on the limitations of standard ways of studying social movements, and how she developed more appropriate ways of studying fat activism, in her case autoethnography - 'Angharad E. Beckett argues that if you want to understand a social movement, in her case disability activism, it is not enough to try and theorise it using existing models, you need new approaches that reflect the content of that movement. I a Really engaging & accessible read. Some things I particularly liked: Cooper's reflections on the limitations of standard ways of studying social movements, and how she developed more appropriate ways of studying fat activism, in her case autoethnography - 'Angharad E. Beckett argues that if you want to understand a social movement, in her case disability activism, it is not enough to try and theorise it using existing models, you need new approaches that reflect the content of that movement. I agree.' And her discussion of the ways in which the knowledge and perspectives of fat people are marginalised (or... completely ignored?) within obesity research and discourse - '...it doesn’t treat fat activism as a viable and less risky public health strategy. This reproduces the idea that fat is an awkward and intractable problem instead of finding answers within it; fat activism’s main value is limited to challenging prejudice or promoting health. Fat activists are almost never consulted and fat people are repeatedly positioned as failed subjects, typically constructed as absent, abstract, abject, anonymous and Othered, passive patient-consumers in need of expert intervention.' And her exploration of the boundary policing of what constitutes activism, and how the theorising of social movements doesn't currently account how 'ambiguous' movements, or how social movements shift, change, iterate and adapt - 'By adopting a hierarchical understanding of activism, one that privileges certain forms over others, fat activists are stuck between what is commonly understood as activism, and what they actually do in the everyday. This is not surprising given the preponderance of political process activism as the definitive form, with all other interventions treated as poor relations... This awkward ambiguity is intriguing precisely because it upsets the idea that activism has a fixed meaning with solid boundaries.' And finally, the 'gentrification' of fat activism, and the problems with using the capitalist system as the basis for activism - '...within the gentrification of fat activism it is access rather than social transformation that has become the main motivator... What started as resistance and critique by people with limited capital to participate in neoliberal culture is now a buying opportunity that further excludes those who are too poor to participate.'

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hal Lowen

    Read through my local radical library Rubicund I wouldn't recommend this as a first dip into fat activism - it was mine and I felt myself getting a little lost in places and needing to backtrack. HOWEVER it is a fantastic book for anyone interested in an examination of fat activism and all the different forms it takes as well as touching on assimilationism and how it's not that great. It also contextualizes a lot of experiences living as fat and trans and queer in a way that's both driving (other Read through my local radical library Rubicund I wouldn't recommend this as a first dip into fat activism - it was mine and I felt myself getting a little lost in places and needing to backtrack. HOWEVER it is a fantastic book for anyone interested in an examination of fat activism and all the different forms it takes as well as touching on assimilationism and how it's not that great. It also contextualizes a lot of experiences living as fat and trans and queer in a way that's both driving (other people have the same and are using it to fuel activism!) and almost disheartening (other people might feel as bad as I do). I do wish there was more research into/written about trans experiences, but I am glad it wasn't exclusionary! Like I said, I do reccomend this 100% but maybe not as a first jumping off point.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Q. Rada

    3.75⭐s. A weirdly specific rating for a complicated book. Overall, I liked this alot. The author has a really unique and intersectional perspective on fat activism, and I enjoyed learning about the roots of the movement in queer radical and diverse spaces. However, I found some parts a little inaccessible, and had to re-read to understand. I actually put this down for a couple of months and just picked it up to finish it today. I think this is essential reading for fat activism, though, even if 3.75⭐s. A weirdly specific rating for a complicated book. Overall, I liked this alot. The author has a really unique and intersectional perspective on fat activism, and I enjoyed learning about the roots of the movement in queer radical and diverse spaces. However, I found some parts a little inaccessible, and had to re-read to understand. I actually put this down for a couple of months and just picked it up to finish it today. I think this is essential reading for fat activism, though, even if it is a little dense.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Cortese

    Grateful that this book exists. The history of fat feminism has largely been forgotten. This activist remembering is really important. This book challenges what we think of as fat activism—eating disorder advocacy, body positivity—and shows that, though those are important, fat activism is about so much more: it’s about community, belonging, and challenging the monstrosity of capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy , which need to define some bodies as human and others as abject, some lives as v Grateful that this book exists. The history of fat feminism has largely been forgotten. This activist remembering is really important. This book challenges what we think of as fat activism—eating disorder advocacy, body positivity—and shows that, though those are important, fat activism is about so much more: it’s about community, belonging, and challenging the monstrosity of capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy , which need to define some bodies as human and others as abject, some lives as valuable and others as disposable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    At first I was a bit apprehensive because I didn't have a lot of background knowledge but overall I don't think that was too much of a problem. My favourite bit was at the end when it was about specific examples of activism in the UK - I hadn't heard of the Fattylympics before but I thought it was a really cool idea. I liked the fact that the author didn't try and say that certain types or methods of activism are better than others. It certainly gave me a lot to think about. At first I was a bit apprehensive because I didn't have a lot of background knowledge but overall I don't think that was too much of a problem. My favourite bit was at the end when it was about specific examples of activism in the UK - I hadn't heard of the Fattylympics before but I thought it was a really cool idea. I liked the fact that the author didn't try and say that certain types or methods of activism are better than others. It certainly gave me a lot to think about.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Bessey

    While I didn’t love the way this book was formatted/presented (it read very much as a dissertation turned into a book, which is always a bit awkward for me), the content was excellent! It gave me a lot to think about and reflect upon in terms of my academic work and activism, and I know I’ll be revisiting it many times.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kai Guerrero

    Very useful and helpful, especiallt for researchers and activists, but also for people who want to know more about the history of fat activism and what it is about. There's a lot of bibliography, too, which I'm grateful for. Very useful and helpful, especiallt for researchers and activists, but also for people who want to know more about the history of fat activism and what it is about. There's a lot of bibliography, too, which I'm grateful for.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tassa DeSalada

    Interesting

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura Aranda

    Inspiring, comprehensive, reflective and accessible. I'm so grateful for the work of fat activists and for Charlotte Cooper's writings. Inspiring, comprehensive, reflective and accessible. I'm so grateful for the work of fat activists and for Charlotte Cooper's writings.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Murray

    Charlotte Cooper’s new book takes a comprehensive and entertaining look at the history of combating prejudice against fat people. Although some might calculate the start of this movement towards social justice from the "fat-in" staged in New York's Central Park in 1967, or possibly from the founding of NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) in 1969, Charlotte Cooper argues (and I agree) that ground zero for full-frontal, all-inclusive fat activism is probably The Fat Liberation M Charlotte Cooper’s new book takes a comprehensive and entertaining look at the history of combating prejudice against fat people. Although some might calculate the start of this movement towards social justice from the "fat-in" staged in New York's Central Park in 1967, or possibly from the founding of NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) in 1969, Charlotte Cooper argues (and I agree) that ground zero for full-frontal, all-inclusive fat activism is probably The Fat Liberation Manifesto, written by Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran in 1973. In any event this is movement with four decades of history, and a myriad of different approaches. This book covers more of this history than any other available resource. Fat Activism provides an in-your-face, yet firmly practical look at what people have done to fight fat prejudice over the decades, what it has and hasn’t worked and how it might evolve in future. She doesn’t shy away from controversies and problems in how groups trying to attack prejudice can stumble into other forms of discrimination in the process. Her approach is positive and affirming rather than simply fault-finding. She provides a constant invitation to listen and learn from one another in hopes of going forward together more effectively. This book is worth having if only to get Cooper’s insights into her own work in organizing several very creative, radical events and activities such as The Fattylympics, held in London on 7 July 2012, a few weeks before the beginning of the official Olympic Games. Her critiques of other groups and events ring with the authenticity of personal experience. In the vein of full disclosure practiced by Charlotte Cooper herself, I have to say that I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I can honestly recommend it to anyone interested in better understanding the challenges of living and thriving while fat.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Corey Wrenn

    I purchased this book to learn more about fat activism (specifically because the author produced an accompanying video which mentioned veganism and I am an intersectionally-minded vegan feminist). While I had hoped that there would be some interesting intersections with animal rights (there were none), the book indirectly did speak considerably to politics in the animal rights movement. In other words, while this book is about fat activism, it is really a very approachable introduction to radica I purchased this book to learn more about fat activism (specifically because the author produced an accompanying video which mentioned veganism and I am an intersectionally-minded vegan feminist). While I had hoped that there would be some interesting intersections with animal rights (there were none), the book indirectly did speak considerably to politics in the animal rights movement. In other words, while this book is about fat activism, it is really a very approachable introduction to radical grassroots social movement theory in general. I learned so much about the fat activism movement from this book, but I also found it extremely thought provoking for other movements I study (the animal rights movement in particular). The author is radical, critical, and real. What I appreciate the most about this book is how it takes an honest look at the author's own role in the space, unafraid to tackle many of the personal and political problems that manifest in collective action so often glossed over by movements hoping to put their best face forward for the public (probably one of the main benefits to going with a non-academic press). I highly recommend this book for social movement scholars of all kinds. It has certainly informed my research and activism greatly.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A fantastic overview of the history of fat activism. At times the chronology was unclear, and I wondered whether it was Cooper's intention to destabilize the idea of progressive movement in time. My favourite part was Cooper's description of her own activism, and her linking of the absorption of fat acceptance into social media and fatshion with the neoliberal investment in individualism. She argues that this accommodation has morphed fat activism from a collective social movement to individuali A fantastic overview of the history of fat activism. At times the chronology was unclear, and I wondered whether it was Cooper's intention to destabilize the idea of progressive movement in time. My favourite part was Cooper's description of her own activism, and her linking of the absorption of fat acceptance into social media and fatshion with the neoliberal investment in individualism. She argues that this accommodation has morphed fat activism from a collective social movement to individualized consumer relations.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Boyer

    Heavy material and lots of good information. Wish there was more on what actions we can take/do next to help with this!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lurene

  20. 5 out of 5

    Your Fat

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liza Tait-Bailey

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Vosk

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bastián Olea Herrera

  24. 5 out of 5

    Genesee Rickel

  25. 5 out of 5

    karoline

  26. 5 out of 5

    April

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamie LeClaire

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shell Everson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Noah A

  30. 4 out of 5

    hollycatherine

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