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30 years on and Fat is still a Feminist Issue

Painting by Magritte

On Saturday 27th June "The False Body" Conference took place in London to celebrate 30 years of Susie Orbach's book Fat is a Feminist Issue and to explore the body in the context of psychoanalysis. The event was chaired by Brett Kahr and the speakers were Susie Orbach, Valerie Sinason and Catherine Baker-Pitts all of whom spoke in illuminating, honest and powerful ways about - the body.  

There is no doubt that fat is still a feminist issue. Susie Orbach said that if we when we ask whether fat is still a feminist issue we ask the question - is there a form of violence against women's bodies today? - then the answer to that has to be yes. This is because, as was so clear from the speakers' different presentations, our relationships with our bodies are still so troubled and full of pain and our search for a body is so frantic within our modern culture. And not just women - men too.

The frantic search for a body was epitomised in a presentation by the psychoanalyst Catherine Baker-Pitts who is studying the cosmetic surgery industry in the USA. Her very clear impression from extensive research with women in the USA is that cosmetic surgery is becoming a cultural imperative. The pressure on women to have cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly enormous and if you don't have it then you are seen as somehow lacking. There are no longer limits to the search for the "perfect" body.  So, just like the diet industry, the cosmetic surgery industry is now making huge money and profits out of our dis-ease around our bodies.  

One member of the audience asked - how can we be resilient to these huge cultural and commercial pressures?

It can start here. AnyBody wants to fight for variety in bodies and the possibility of having a body at peace. 

30 years since Susie Orbach wrote Fat is a Feminist issue and we can still be full of hope that there can be change and peace for our bodies.  


Reader Comments (24)


I am involved with a group of women who recently discovered an american womans misson to stop fat talk by simply randomly putting post-it notes with "you are beautiful" or words to that effect anonymously in public places. I have started an event on facebook to the same effect asking people to join in & have also compiled a nice chain email for people to forward on to each other. We would like to see how far this random act of kindness can go, the lady who suggested it on our Beyond Chocolate forum has caught on to somthing potentially very useful as a means to making people more aware of body image and associated issues, I myself being an ex-bulimic and ex-dieter.

So if anyone would like to join in please do I have started sharing photos on facebook, you can also see the original website and if you click on meet Caitlin there is a link to her original blog where the idea was born.

All the best,

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkiera jennings
Here, hear.

It is an issue for all of us.

Keep up the good fight

in solidarity...
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We hope so. No one will reject to beauty and peace and good changes for our bodies.
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