Heavy Burdens: Stories of Motherhood and Fatness

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Heavy Burdens: Stories of Motherhood and Fatness seeks to address the systemic ways in which the moral panic around “obesity” impacts fat mothers and fat children. Taking a life-course approach, the book begins with analyses of the ways in which fatphobia is enacted on pregnant (or even not-yet-pregnant) women, whose bodies immediately become viewed as objects warranting external control by not only medical professionals, but family members, and even passers-by. The story unfolds as adults recount childhood stories of growing up fat, or growing up in fear of being fat, and how their mothers’ relationships with their own bodies and attempted weight-loss experiences shaped how food, exercise, and body management were approached in their homes in sometimes harmful ways. Finally, the book concludes with stories of women who have since become mothers, examining the ways in which having their own children altered their views on their own bodies and their perceptions of their mothers’ actions, and working to find fat-friendly futures via their own parenting (or grand-parenting) techniques.


Heavy Burdens takes up the important discussion of fat and motherhood by blending both scholarly and personal analyses. This collection looks both up at mothers (from a child s view) and down from motherhood, complicating ideas about motherhood, responsibility, and individuality through the rocky terrain of weight stigma –Dr. May Friedman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Ryerson University

About the Author

Judy Verseghy is a recent graduate of the MA program in Critical Disability Studies at York University in Toronto, Ontario. Her academic interests include mothering, caregiving, mental health, autism, and fat studies. She is a mother of three humans and three fur babies, and loves all of them deeply (and widely). Sam Abel is a practicing social worker, a PhD candidate, and an artist. Her social work practice focuses on refugee settlement, mental health, body acceptance, and familial relationships. Sam’s academic research explores the experiences of fat people in health care and in the fashion industry. You can see more of her artistic work @saucy.nudles and at bracedcomic.wordpress.com.