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The Metamorphoses of FatA History of Obesity$
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Georges Vigarello

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231159760

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231159760.001.0001

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Typology Fever

Typology Fever

(p.116) 13. Typology Fever
The Metamorphoses of Fat

Georges Vigarello

, C. Jon Delogu
Columbia University Press

This chapter considers the social factors that influenced the evaluation of silhouettes at the beginning of the nineteenth century, particularly the changing codes of physical appearance stirred-up by the Revolution. From 1820–1830, travelers and observers reported being suddenly confronted with a more confusing world. “Castes” were said to have disappeared. The old borders erased. Resemblances multiplied once the society of orders was abolished, giving rise to the desire to “look” with greater precision, inventory more, single out specific looks and their maintenance, and fix “physiognomies, poses, gestures, and grimaces.” A publishing enterprise of a new sort also emerged: The English Depicted By Themselves, The French Depicted by Themselves, The Parisian Museum, etc., all of which inventoried society in pictures. There is no scientific sociology going on in these investigations, dominated by subjective observation. No overarching general vision either. What one observes is a new way of identifying physiques—their profiles, their possible original particularities—and this involves new evocations of the “fat person,” including new sharper techniques of self-description.

Keywords:   fat, fat people, social factors, silhouette, bourgeois, society, self-description, physique

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