**Keep in mind HOW THE FOOD SYSTEM PROMOTES FATNESS/THINESS
SOC349 – Readings – March 22, 2013
Morality and Health: News Media Constructions of Overweight and Eating Disorders By Saguy & Gruys
Eating disorders & overweight are linked to class, race and gender.
In the United States, thinness is associated with high social status and taken as evidence of moral virtue.
In contrast, fatness is linked to low status and seen as a sign of sloth and gluttony. The media
predominantly attribute overweight to bad individual choices and tend to treat binge eating disorder as
ordinary and blameworthy overeating. In that the poor and minorities are more likely to be heavy (why
are they heavy? --> Because of food deserts and lack of healthy food choices – relate to last weeks
lecture), such reporting reinforces social stereotypes of fat people, ethnic minorities, and the poor as out
of control and lazy.
Case study: White girl that comes from affluent nuclear family gets anorexia while black boy that comes
from a single parent family is obese where the body weight is indicative of social status (234).
Wealthier white people—especially women—tend to be thinner than poorer people of color. This is, in
part, because having a thin and toned body is expensive in contemporary Western contexts, where fresh
fruits and vegetables are more expensive than higher calorie processed foods and where physical activity
requires leisure time (235)
Historically when there were food shortages being fat/plump signified wealth where being thin signified
illness and being of a lower social class. BUT as the agricultural & industrial revolution reduced food
shortages fatness was no longer a sign of wealth and as the poor got fatter the connotations behind
body size flipped.
Mass Media news (where he examines articles) media treats anorexics as victims of a terrible illness
beyond their and their parents’ control, while obesity is caused by bad individual behavior, including, in
the case of children, parental neglect. (2010:233)
News reports frame overweight/obesity and eating disorders in particular ways by drawing attention to
some aspects of these issues while obscuring others (i.e. ignoring white anorexics – which was is evident
since in both