Many parents, teachers, and doctors believe that childhood obesity is a social problem that needs to be solved. Yet, missing from debates over what caused the rise in childhood obesity and how to fix it are the children themselves. By investigating how contemporary cultural discourses of childhood obesity are experienced by children, Laura Backstrom illustrates how deeply fat stigma is internalized during the early socialization experiences of children. Weighty Problems details processes of embodied inequality: how the children came to recognize inequalities related to their body size, how they explained the causes of those differences, how they responded to micro-level injustices in their lives, and how their participation in a weight loss program impacted their developing self-image. The book finds that embodied inequality is constructed and negotiated through a number of interactional processes including resocialization, stigma management, social comparisons, and attribution.
Recommended. --Choice Fat camps are ostensibly designed to help kids lose weight by a compulsory diet. Like every other diet, it does not work. What the kids take away and keep is that their self-worth depends on their body size and that they do not measure up to societal expectations, learning that they must change themselves rather than celebrate what makes us all different. Weighty Problems is a wake-up call to adults to rethink what we are teaching children. A must-read for those interested in child health and well-being. --Abigail C. Saguy author of What's Wrong with Fat? Weighty Problems is an engaging and well-written exploration of the ways in which current cultural framings of childhood obesity are experienced by children. In focusing on how children navigate the cultural meanings of fatness, Backstrom shows that the internalization of these messages carries over into adulthood. --Natalie Boero author of Killer Fat