Stigmatization of Fat Characters, a power play of Discourse and Hegemony: an Investigation in to the Truth


Bincy Mole Baby, PhD Research Scholar
Department of English and Languages, Amrita Viswa Vidyapeetham, Kochi Campus, India.
Dini Eldho, Lecturer
SCMS College of Polytechnic, Vaikkara, India.
Dr.K.Balakrishnan, Professor
Department of English and Languages, Amrita ViswaVidyapeetham, Kochi Campus, India.


Though the fat person in the eighteenth and nineteenth century culture usually represented wealth and prosperity, or by extension, either literally or metaphorically, greed and avarice, there was one situation in which fat people themselves were mocked and shamed. Extremely fat people were seen as a form of human grotesquery. They serve as a spectacle of oddity in fairs, circuses, vaudeville and most recently on television programs such as ‘The Biggest Loser’. In all this the fat man suffers the greatest humiliation. His body is at once exposed and undignified. The negative effect that these freaks shows had on viewers who themselves were fat, or those who feared becoming fat, or certainly on those who were themselves the object of ridicule. The stigma in this case, however, is one of oddity and uniqueness. What is clear from the historical documents, however, is that the connotations of fatness and of the fat person- lazy, gluttonous, greedy, immoral, uncontrolled, stupid, ugly, lacking in will power, primitive- preceded and then intertwined with explicit concern about health issues. Fat bodies as Foucault would say, is considered as hegemonic knowledge or stereotypes which are enforced by the authorities. Thus body size and weight can be seen and explored as a set of social meanings. The desire to raise one’s social status is a key motivational force for dieting. Creation of hegemonic understanding of fatness as a problem and discursive and other practices that aim at determining normalcy can be justifiably seen along the lines Foucault’s notion of power and specifically those of Biopower and Biopolitics. According to Foucault these power works through discourses and hegemonic knowledge.