Original Research

They don’t make plus size spacesuits: A fat studies analysis of selected literary texts

Jessica Murray
Literator | Vol 41, No 1 | a1660 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v41i1.1660 | © 2020 Jessica Murray | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 September 2019 | Published: 23 April 2020

About the author(s)

Jessica Murray, Department of English Studies, Faculty of Human Science, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This article used feminist fat studies as the theoretical rubric through which the author has offered a critical analysis of the representations of fat female characters in the two selected literary texts: Fatropolis (2012) by Tracey L. Thompson and They don’t make plus size spacesuits (2019) by Ali Thompson. Both these texts are set in alternative realities and offer sustained engagements with the ubiquitous and pernicious manifestations of fat phobia in the lives of female characters. Although these authors chose science fiction as a genre, no fat woman would be able to read the texts without wincing in recognition. From the fat phobic micro aggressions to the blatant violence and discrimination that shape daily fat lives, these texts offer our experiences writ large. The fat female body remains something of a blind spot in contemporary feminist studies, which is somewhat strange, considering the profound impact that fat, and the fear of becoming fat, has on the lives of women in almost every sphere of life. Diet culture, which is regarded as the capitalist commodification of fat phobia, is so rife and has become so normalised that most people have simply stopped noticing how their bodies and activities are being policed at both the most intimate and the most public levels of their lives. Diet culture and fat phobia constitute a violent assault on fat women, and the experiences of these characters offer a safe space where feminist scholars could explore the dynamics that function to hurt, minimise and isolate fat women beyond the texts.

Keywords

feminist fat studies; fat phobia; science fiction; fat female body; diet culture; epistemological; discursive violence.

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