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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 Shores of Laziness

The Shores of Laziness

(p.33) 5. The Shores of Laziness
The Metamorphoses of Fat

Georges Vigarello

, C. Jon Delogu
Columbia University Press

This chapter describes how criticism of the “heavy” and “enormous” person changed in the sixteenth century. Indolence displeased; the useless was disquieting; and laziness became “the plague of human understanding.” At a time of intense social segregation and the nobility’s contempt for manual labor, the idea of “inactivity,” doing nothing, and softness was stigmatized more than that of “work.” A more profound new development was that the intensification of contempt touched the language. A negative culture surrounding size was stated more than ever before, though still indifferent to precise indicators and quantifiable measurements. Those with wide waists are repeatedly spoken of in strongly negative terms as “lacking spirit,” “knowing very little,” and “displeasing.” The word heavy (lourd) elicited linguistic inventiveness, stigmatizing awkwardness and torpor.

Keywords:   fat, fat people, heaviness, stigma, sixteenth century, laziness, language

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