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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 Plural of Fat

The Plural of Fat

(p.45) 6. The Plural of Fat
The Metamorphoses of Fat

Georges Vigarello

, C. Jon Delogu
Columbia University Press

This chapter considers the transformation of the notion of fat in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Doctors used fat to accentuate their emphasis on a norm. Their examples become more precise and their repertory of symptoms becomes more diverse. The observations are more numerous even though they still avoid questions about possible “stages” of bigness and their possible gradations. While the image of fat remained strictly limited to intuitive markers, there were new attempts to specify its origin, its states, and its particularities. All arguments, statements, and even wild ideas confirmed a heightened preoccupation with bigness. Hydropsy and adiposity were distinguished, plethora and apoplexy became more precisely defined. Knowledge increased, though nothing proved its usefulness, and the traditional vision and treatment of the fat person did not change.

Keywords:   fat, fat people, sixteenth century, seventeenth century, doctors, hydropsy, adiposity, apoplexy

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