Using a densely constructed ethnographic subject, Josephine, the “ugly duckling,” I use Foucault’s complex notion of an Apparatus to examine how Josephine’s decision to have weight-loss surgery is understandable even though it permanently destroys her normally functioning digestive system. I try to illuminate how the decision is deeply embedded in extraordinarily complex neoliberal biopolitical structures and dynamics of fat hatred camouflaged by liberatory discourses that promise “empowerment,” becoming “normal,” and discovery of her “real self.” I argue that in contemporary America, Fat Hatred must be understood as a powerful systemic structure of racialized gendered oppression, that one tactic to normalize weight-loss surgery involves assimilating it to “normal” cosmetic surgery, and that Josephine must be seen, simultaneously, as legitimizing dominant obesity discourses and practices, enacting genuinely liberating personal choices, demonstrating her status as a “good American bio-citizen,” and contributing to the collective physical health and mental health of the nation since “obesity” is soon to be included in the fifth edition of the canonical Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a mental disorder.
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DOI 10.3138/ijfab.4.1.188
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Collective Feelings.Sara Ahmed - 2004 - Theory, Culture and Society 21 (2):25-42.

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