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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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The Horizon of Fault

The Horizon of Fault

(p.17) 3. The Horizon of Fault
The Metamorphoses of Fat

Georges Vigarello

, C. Jon Delogu
Columbia University Press

In the middle centuries of the medieval period, a change in attitude occurred around the big person associated with excessive eating and daily rotundity. Criticism of the ordinary big person, no matter how vaguely defined, started to build and different criteria came into conflict. This chapter discusses how different groups accentuated what was for them anathema. It focuses on the views of clerics, the doctors, and the medieval courts. The clergy preached control and restraint. They emphasized the value of abstinence against the culture of feasts and condemned gluttony. Medieval doctors insisted on the dangers of fat even though there were no images or words to characterize what was “too big.” The medieval courts cultivated refinement but there was growing expectation that power and lightness be united, an association of big and slim, even though social ascendancy was still associated with alimentary accumulation.

Keywords:   fat, fat people, big person, Middle Ages, medieval period, clergy, doctors, medieval courts

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