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Publisher's Summary

From the creator of Your Fat Friend and co-host of the Maintenance Phase podcast, an explosive indictment of the systemic and cultural bias facing plus-size people.

Anti-fatness is everywhere. In What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Aubrey Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people’s experiences. Unlike the recent wave of memoirs and quasi self-help books that encourage listeners to love and accept themselves, Gordon pushes the discussion further towards authentic fat activism, which includes ending legal weight discrimination, giving equal access to health care for large people, increased access to public spaces, and ending anti-fat violence. As she argues, “I did not come to body positivity for self-esteem. I came to it for social justice.”

By sharing her experiences as well as those of others - from smaller fat to very fat people - she concludes that to be fat in our society is to be seen as an undeniable failure, unlovable, unforgivable, and morally condemnable. Fatness is an open invitation for others to express disgust, fear, and insidious concern. To be fat is to be denied humanity and empathy. Studies show that fat survivors of sexual assault are less likely to be believed and less likely than their thin counterparts to report various crimes; 27 percent of very fat women and 13 percent of very fat men attempt suicide; over 50 percent of doctors describe their fat patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly and noncompliant”; and in 48 states, it’s legal - even routine - to deny employment because of an applicant’s size.

Advancing fat justice and changing prejudicial structures and attitudes will require work from all people. What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat is a crucial tool to create a tectonic shift in the way we see, talk about, and treat our bodies, fat and thin alike.

©2020 Aubrey Gordon (P)2020 Beacon Press

Critic Reviews

“Everyone who has a fat family member, friend, acquaintance, or coworker should read this insightful book.” (Library Journal, Starred Review)

“Gordon provides candid storytelling and critical analysis in this validating and inclusive read.” (Ms. Magazine)

 “Writing from a personal and cultural perspective, Gordon goes beyond cosmetic complaints to undress the depths of anti-fat bias and discrimination, ultimately rallying for a social justice movement to form and broaden the scope of the conversation.” (CultureShift)

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What listeners say about What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat

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Brilliant

Absolutely brilliant book. I love Aubrey Gordon, also pls listen to her new podcast with Michael Hobbes called “Maintenance Phase.”

She nails internal fatphobic feelings and experiences I’ve had for years and could never describe or verbalize. Health doesn’t equal skinny. Fat people deserve medical care too. Somebodies are bigger AND THATS OK AND FINE.

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Stunning

This book is a clear and honest guide that offered me a glimpse of what it’s like to navigate the world in a fat body. It has moments that are daring, horrifying, authentic behind belief, and full of the type of vulnerability that fuels movements and societal transformation. It’s a must read for anyone who has a body... so yeah, everyone. Incredible read.

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Excellent, heartbreaking, informative

This book is an extremely well written combination of stories, education, and a call to action. The author really shines telling her own stories and those of other fat people. Frankly, many were heartbreaking and illuminating, arousing compassion as she describes the cruelty and dehumanization so often shown to fat people. She also ropes in the sort of statistics and research that makes her points practically bulletproof. Finally, she clearly describes the ways in which fat people are denied rights and access and the specific things that we collectively need to change in order to shift a fatphobic world. Some of the social justice issues include work discrimination, housing discrimination, being kicked off airline seats without refunds, sexual violence, reduced access to public spaces due to lack of accommodations, and medical discrimination that often denies fat people the right to medical care due to health care providers assuming all symptoms fat people have are due to their weight. This can result in dangerous medical neglect for prolonged periods of time. It is appalling that fat people are so often denied access, respect, and humanity and there are a lot of changes that need to happen.

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Eyeopening

An affecting read that challenges the reader to explore assumptions about fat that so many of us hold. I've never read a book quite like this. Aubrey Gordon is a wonderful writer who challenges with heart and a clear-eyed look at how we regard fat people in our relationships and also in our policies and systems, As I listened I found myself thinking, "I never thought about it quite like that before ..." I am changed -- in a good way -- after listening to this book. The narrator is perfect. This an important work. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Required reading.

This book shines a light on the racist and misogynistic origins of many ideas that are pervasive in western culture around the thin idéal and its conflation with health. This work is so, so important, and very interesting. I’ll reread it, because it’s so much to take in.

The narrator has a warm, personal voice that strikes the right chord with in first-person narrative interspersed with research, many references, examples in media. Excellent performance.

Put this book on your list, friends. You will become more empathetic, more knowledgeable, and you will better understand why body neutrality is an important notion to familiarize yourself with.

❤️✨

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An excellent read

Loved Aubrey Gordon's book, it is a wonderful read for those seeking empathy and open-mindedness. The author bares their soul and trauma, illuminating the cracks and flaws and gapping chasms in our Healthcare system and societal expectations towards larger bodies. Please give this a read!

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Aubrey Gordon is amazing

My only complaint is that I’d hoped that Aubrey herself would be narrating this. I could listen to her talk all day. That being said, the narration is excellent.

I found out about Aubrey via her excellent podcast and hope she has more books in the works. She’s funny and brilliant and makes the world a nicer place.

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excellent policy recommendations at the end!

I really enjoyed this audio book and the historical analysis of anti-fat bias and the vision and policy recommendations at the end. you can tell Aubrey Gordon has a background in political organizing. I also really enjoy her podcast Maintenance Phase with Michael Hobbs.

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Extraordinary

Thank you for writing this book! I am grateful and ready to address anti-fat biases in and around me!

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Well written, but often misses the point.

There are some very good points here, but others annoy me with their petulant tone. For example, she argues that doctors’ requirement of severely overweight patients to lose weight before major surgery is discriminatory. She lauds science, but then forgets doctors might have a scientific and statistics reason for wanting to perform operations on people closer to their target weight: they’re less likely to die on the table. The author seems to sometimes forget that although she is healthy, many very fat people aren’t.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-24-20

An important book.

This is not a comfortable read, especially for those of us who have faced prejudice and attempts at shaming us.

But it is a very important addition to the canon of literature about the fat experience.

3 people found this helpful

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  • CC
  • 06-22-21

Required Reading

This book should be required reading for every teacher, doctor, healthcare provider, politician, policy maker and celebrity. It is calm, precise, relatable and packed with information that could mean the difference between a human society of our dreams or our nightmares.

1 person found this helpful

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  • debbie janes
  • 10-17-21

A must read !!!!

I never realised what a fat shaming world we live in. this lady's accounts of abuse, hatred are just heart breaking this book is a massive eye opener

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-17-21

An important & uncomfortable read

This was by far the most uncomfortable read about what has been my own internalised fatphobia. I have never been more aware of what I have done to subconsciously uphold a system that targets and harms people people & my own relationship to my body. Everyone should read this. And everyone should protect our children and other fat people deserve dignity. What an important read.

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  • kahlin
  • 02-10-21

Fat or thin- everybody should read this

fatphobia and the language around it has only been explicitly highlighted to me over the past couple of years - I have the privilege of a smaller body. since knowing about it I have been a huge supporter of fat acceptance but honestly my knowledge was not the best. This book has completely changed that, it is very eye opening and highlights the extent of the discrimination fat people face! It’s a great read- fat or not - very well written, chapters are clear and interesting!

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  • Jen
  • 02-10-21

Eye-opening, essential reading

This should be required reading for all non-fat, straight-sized and thin people. Captivating mixture of the author’s own experience combined with overwhelming scientific data.

Compellingly performed, and overall hugely recommended.

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  • Cate
  • 01-23-21

Read it

If you’ve ever had to navigate the world in a fat body, you will probably find echos of your own story here, and feel heard and understood. If you haven’t experienced the world in a fat body then reading this, I hope, will help you grow your own understanding and compassion for real people of size. Hopefully together we can build the just world Aubrey dreams of.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-07-21

an indictment on our societies’ prejudice and systemic abuse of fat bodies.

What we don’t talk about when we talk about fat, by Aubrey Gordon

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a wonderful book which reads as a collection of interconnected essays, on various facets of the fat experience. In it, Aubrey Gordon explores the prevalence and insidiousness of fat-phobia and anti-fatness.
I particularly loved the final section of the book, in which Gordon explores a ‘utopia’ where all people are respected, and then outlines the specific ways this could be achieved. The very fact that this is a utopian vision serves as an indictment on our societies’ prejudice and systemic abuse of fat bodies.

A really great read, only losing a star as it focuses a lot on the US healthcare system, and I would have loved to hear some interviews of people with more intersectional identities, as opposed to just Gordon’s own experience. But a fantastic read nonetheless.

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  • Clare Seddon
  • 12-10-20

Everyone should read/listen to this book.

Well written, moving and informative. Such an important subject. Cannot recommend enough. A must read/listen book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 11-30-20

incredible!

Incredible listen, love how this book is inclusive of trans, black, disabled fat people etc.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-26-20

💕

Thank you for writing this book Aubrey. You are a wonderful writer. I love listening to your podcast with Michael Hobbs, you both make me think, smile and laugh out loud. I devoured this book in 2 days, it was insightful, honest, sometimes devastating but truly important. Big love 💕💕

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-19-21

Everyone should read this

Aubrey opened my eyes and so eloquently explains the prejudices and injustices on fat people. It’s shifted my thinking and made me call myself out on my own outdated thinking. Highly recommend and will read/listen again. Thanks for your vulnerability Aubrey, I love your work.

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  • Siobhan
  • 02-07-21

Fat Justice pls

As always @yrfatfriend brings the most astute and affective language to explain both the overt and insideous ways in which fatphobia negatively effects fat folks, and reasons to the reader as to why we should change our socio-cultural, and legislative, practises when it comes to fat bodies. Thank you for your continuing work for fat justice! Thank you for this book!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-04-21

A very important book!

Aubrey’s book is an excellent introduction into understanding and unpacking anti fatness. Warning: you will need to confront your own biases! (But that’s a good thing)

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