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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
Public enemy. Crucial macronutrient. Health risk. Punchline. Moneymaker. Epidemic. Sexual fetish. Moral failing. Necessary bodily organ. Conveyor of flavor. Freak-show spectacle. Never mind the stereotype, fat is never sedentary: its definitions, identities, and meanings are manifold and in constant motion.
Demonized in medicine and public policy, adored by chefs and nutritional faddists (and let's face it, most of us who eat), simultaneously desired and abhorred when it comes to sex, and continually courted by a multi-billion-dollar fitness and weight-loss industry, for so many people “fat” is ironically nothing more than an insult or a state of despair.
In Hanne Blank's Fat we find fat as state, as possession, as metaphor, as symptom, as object of desire, intellectual and carnal. Here, “feeling fat” and literal fat merge, blurring the boundaries and infusing one another with richer, fattier meanings.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
“Hanne Blank's characteristically honest, creative, wickedly funny, and sharply insightful voice comes through on every page of this eminently readable book. Blank reveals fat as polysemic, at once mundane and hidden, sexually charged, and socially vexed. Fat is a scholarly ethnography of an everyday object that manages to be a genuine page-turner.”
– Quill Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown University, USA