Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Fat History by Peter Stearns, historian

I ran into this book by the Law of Attraction or as it says in the Bible, "Ask and you shall receive." Peter Stearns is a historian who believes that morality, fashion, religion and media have all influenced pressure to be very thin and a disgust or hate in fat. He compares attitudes and fat trends in the United States and France. While images are getting thinner, people in both countries, especially in the United States, are getting fatter. Children in the United States are heavier than those in France. Fat is a morality issue in the United States. In France it is mostly an aesthetic issue. They eat slower with smaller portions. They don’t snack as much.

As sexuality opened up and women had fewer children, he writes, Americans needed something else to judge people on...and that was weight. If you are fat, you are irresponsible and have no self-discipline.

I can see both sides. There are clearly too many heavy people in the Unites States. At the same time, I think we need more images, especially of women, that have some fat. Health magazine covers don't only need to show women with very little body fat. Models don't need to all be very tall and thin, or heavy when it comes to plus size. What happened to all the medium-size fit people? Perhaps people think they will never meet a very skinny standard and give up diet and exercise. Perhaps most people don’t want to be very thin.

Obese people should not be judged too heavily either. Others that are thin may have a drinking problem, or may not be able to work or study with discipline, etc. We cannot assume we know everything about someone based on weight. Perhaps there is a backlash like what teenagers experience: “You can’t make me”, etc. If we have compassion for overweight people and for ourselves if we are overweight, and set goals that we are committed to without applying so much significance like a whole character judgment if we reach them or reach them quickly, we will actually help others , happy ourselves, and reach our goals.

I believe that, for most, being too thin or heavy does not work. A balance of "thin", fat and muscle is best for most. If you have any questions about the book, let me know. I may write more at another time.

Disclaimer: None of the above information can be taken as a substitute for advice from a medical professional such as a physician.

My third book, Pocket Guide to Fitness, is available on,, and If you look up my name on those Web sites, you will find my other books The Boy in a Wheelchair and Life, Work and Play: Poems and Short Stories.

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