'Lazy, slothful and indolent': medical and social perceptions of obesity in Europe to the eighteenth century.
Sawbridge DT, Fitzgerald R. Vesalius. 2009 Dec;15(2):59-70.
University of Edinburgh.
There is a considerable stigma associated with obesity, among healthcare professionals as well as the general population, which often leads to discrimination and weight bias. But why is there a stigma attached to obesity?
The origin of this stigma has been identified in the 18th century but its roots lie much further back in history. There is some debate about how this negative perception of obesity arose and the role of medical professionals in its creation. This paper examines both positive and negative conceptions by following three major aspects of the modern stigma through from Palaeolithic statues to the medical texts of ancient Greece and Rome, finishing with the medical and literary sources of the 18th century 'Enlightenment'.
The modern perception of obesity originated in the social and scientific climate of the Enlightenment through the combination of three key themes;
- obesity as conspicuous consumption,
- associations with suspect morals and excess, and
- as an outward representation of the soul
*Think about the typical "obese" characters on TV or in books, movies, and plays. Most of them pretty much fit into "obesity as conspicuous consumption," "associations with suspect morals and excess," or "outward representation of the soul," don't they?
Which characters can you think of that fit these stereotypes?
The one that springs immediately to my mind is the Baron in the Sting movie version of "Dune." I think he fits all three of those. Fat Hate Bingo!
Anyone else care to play?