Fat Boys: A Slim Book

Fat Boys: A Slim Book

Fat Boys: A Slim Book

Fat Boys: A Slim Book

Synopsis

The fat man--a cultural icon, a social enigma, a pressing medical issue--is the subject of this remarkably rich book. The figures that Sander L. Gilman considers, from the ugly fat man with the beautiful sylph trapped inside to the smart fat boy to the aging body desirous of rejuvenation, appear and reappear in different guises throughout Western culture. And as is often true, such marginal cases help define the shifting center of our dreams and beliefs. An exploration into the world of male body fantasies, Gilman's book examines how the representation of the fat man alters with time and alters how men relate to their own bodies and the bodies of others, both male and female. His examples--ranging from Santa Claus to Sancho Panza, from Falstaff to Babe Ruth, from Nero Wolfe to Al Roker--illustrate the complexity perennially associated with fat men. From discourses about normality to the playing fields of baseball, from Greek male beauty to the fat detective, Gilman's book examines and illuminates how cultures have imagined and portrayed the fat boy.

Excerpt

This is a slim book about a large topic. Covering the cultural and medical discourses about obesity and masculinity should be a much more extensive task than that accomplished by the rather slim volume of case studies I present here. They are not exhaustive, but they do illustrate the complexity associated with the fat man. From discourses about normality to the playing fields of baseball, from Greek male beauty to the fat detective, I have tried to examine and illustrate how cultures, medical and otherwise, have imagined and represented the fat boy. in turn I believe that these cultural images provide powerful models for the self-representation of fat men. the two categories I hesitate to define in this book, notions of “fat” and “men,” are fraught with the conflicts that all perceptions of difference and normality contain. They constantly define and redefine themselves in the West, as this history suggests.

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