Title: What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat

Author: Aubrey Gordon

Published: November 2020

Genres: Non fiction, health, feminism




Anti-fatness is everywhere. In What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Aubrey Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people's experiences. Unlike the recent wave of memoirs and quasi self-help books that encourage readers to love and accept themselves, Gordon pushes the discussion further towards authentic fat activism, which includes ending legal weight discrimination, giving equal access to health care for large people, increased access to public spaces, and ending anti-fat violence. As she argues, I did not come to body positivity for self-esteem. I came to it for social justice.

By sharing her experiences as well as those of others--from smaller fat to very fat people--she concludes that to be fat in our society is to be seen as an undeniable failure, unlovable, unforgivable, and morally condemnable. Fatness is an open invitation for others to express disgust, fear, and insidious concern. To be fat is to be denied humanity and empathy. Studies show that fat survivors of sexual assault are less likely to be believed and less likely than their thin counterparts to report various crimes; 27% of very fat women and 13% of very fat men attempt suicide; over 50% of doctors describe their fat patients as awkward, unattractive, ugly and noncompliant; and in 48 states, it's legal--even routine--to deny employment because of an applicant's size.

Advancing fat justice and changing prejudicial structures and attitudes will require work from all people. What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat is a crucial tool to create a tectonic shift in the way we see, talk about, and treat our bodies, fat and thin alike.



This book will show you all the ways this world has been built for thin people, ones that are ambiguously intricate and others that are blaringly obvious. Gordon explores diet culture, body justice and body sovereignty issues, and the level to which fat bias permeates our everyday behaviours and psyche, and EVEN in the Body Positivity Movement itself; embracing “fat” bodies (sizes 18-24) but not “very fat” bodies (sizes 26+). She forces us to ask ourselves “why is only a certain level of fatness deemed acceptable?” There were some parts that tore the concept of nutrition to shreds that I thought was potentially irresponsible, and fair warning, it’s very statistic heavy. It concluded with a list of actionable and realistic changes that need to be made to our policies, laws and behaviours in order to reduce fat bias which I thought was well researched and encouraging. The education from a person with lived experience is something that should be embraced and never taken for granted. 



I had not heard of Aubrey Gordon before reading this, but I really could have done with a book like this sooner. It was realistic, unapologetic, and frankly showed me a whole division of our society, through the eyes of someone who is a member of that group. I found myself assessing the relationship I have with my own body, and reflecting on the privilege I am afforded each and every day which I subconsciously do not recognise. Sure, at times that makes us uncomfortable, but I channelled this to push myself to broaden my awareness. Covering everything from anti-fat bias, harassment and discrimination, and systemic bias, I found it to be a good combination of statistics, research and an honest portrayal of lived experience and personalised anecdotes. Strongly recommend this to all of us. 



"This, then, is my life as a fat person. I am expected to absorb the discomfort and outright bias against my body in a world built for thin people."

"As of 2020, in forty-eight states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone, refuse to hire them, deny them housing, or turn them down for a table at a restaurant or a room in a hotel simply because they’re fat."



Anti-fat bias, mention of disordered eating


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