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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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Clinical Obesity and Everyday Obesity

Clinical Obesity and Everyday Obesity

(p.154) 17. Clinical Obesity and Everyday Obesity
The Metamorphoses of Fat

Georges Vigarello

, C. Jon Delogu
Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses changing perceptions of bodily forms in the second half of the nineteenth century. These perceptions were influenced by the ascendancy of “free time,” the revolutionary changes in customs of dress, and the reorganization of private living spaces. An everyday obesity developed that relied on categorizing profiles; distinguishing hips, chest, belly, and abdominal muscles; differentiating male and female cases; and usually stigmatizing the second more than the first. A threshold of expectations of slenderness was also established even as a certain conviction held firm, namely, that “there were more obese people in the upper classes than in the working class.” Alongside this lay person’s vision of obesity, medical science advanced another view. Obesity now entered its “scientific period,” became the subject of experiments and calculations, was explored by means of “chemistry and physiology,” and acquired the status of a specific field of study as for other pathologies. New decisive sorts of “verifications” were introduced that no longer simply distinguished sizes but differentiated types of fattening.

Keywords:   fat, fat people, obesity, bodily forms, nineteenth century, medical advance, fattening

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