Coming out as fat

Rachele Salvatelli*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This chapter explores whether the concept of “coming out” can soundly be applied to fatness. All coming out stories share three main characteristics, namely the existence of a stigmatised identity, the metaphor of the closet, and a community of like-minded individuals to join after the coming out process. The chapter is divided in subsections based on these three criteria. It argues that it is possible for fat individuals to come out as fat because fatness constitutes a stigmatised identity and in fact, coming out can be considered as a type of stigma management. The metaphor of the closet can also be applied to fat identity even though fatness is a visible type of stigma. The closet represents the fear of seeing one’s stigma cues publicly exposed. This leads to a renewed and more inclusive understanding of coming out, one that allows for the possibility of having to come out repeatedly, even to the same person. Coming out as fat means to publicly declare one’s desire to rediscuss the meanings attached to fatness. Finally, the essay discusses the possibility of joining a community of like-minded individuals after coming out as fat. Aided by the findings on the narratives of fat body positive individuals, the chapter argues that individuals who have expressed the desire to question fat stereotypes with the intent of rediscussing the meanings of fat identity have experienced feelings of belonging and shared experiences in relation to other fat positive individuals, which suggests that it might be possible to have a community of fat positive individuals to join after the coming out process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Contemporary Reader of Gender and Fat Studies
EditorsAmy Erdman Farrell
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter19
Pages283-300
Number of pages18
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781003140665
ISBN (Print)9780367691660, 9780367691684
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023

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