Taking Up Space: How Eating Well and Exercising Regularly Changed My Life

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Taking Up Space is a sociological memoir about being fat and the physical, emotional and economic costs of trying to pass for thin in a culture that stigmatizes fat people. Making her own life a case study, medical sociologist Pattie Thomas, Ph.D., with the help of her co-author and husband Carl Wilkerson, M.B.A., outlines how stigma limit and shape the life chances of all people and are supported within culture. Through narrative text, poetry, essays, photos and drawings, Dr. Thomas shares her own process and demonstrates how a sociologically examined life can be a source for personal growth. An extensive resource section challenges both the popular reader and the academic to further exploration. Kathleen LeBesco, author of Revolting Bodies: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity, has called Taking Up Space “a road map through the minefield of the ‘war on obesity.'” Foreword by Paul Campos, author of The Obesity Myth (published in paperback as The Diet Myth).

From the Publisher

Pattie Thomas describes herself as a reluctant warrior in “the war on obesity.” She envisions herself, not as a svelte former fattie like the endless commercials viewed offered in the media, but as a Sumo ready to knock down those who wage war on fat and fat people.

The Sumo warrior, she suggests, is a perfect symbol for fat people in the so-called “war on obesity” because Sumos are front-line warriors who traditionally used their girth to open up space for others to win their battles. If the world can accept fat people as they are, then all people would be acceptable and diversity would be celebrated.

Her sociological memoir, Taking Up Space, is about being fat and the physical, emotional and economic costs of trying to pass for thin in a culture and society that wages war on fat people.

It is also about finding one’s strength as a fat person both physically and emotionally. Thomas wrote this memoir because “being fat” is a central fact in her life from the point of view of others. Thomas would rather be remembered as a writer, poet, artist, photographer, filmmaker, sociologist, traveler and entrepreneur.

By confronting those who would sum up her life by her size, she has found the time and creativity to develop all those passions. She hopes that she has demonstrated how a sociologically examined life can lead to personal growth.