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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


SUDO, Nara  and  LUZ, Madel T.. Fat people in the headlines: representations of being fat in weekly magazines. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2007, vol.12, n.4, pp.1033-1040. ISSN 1678-4561.

Western culture places high value on slimness, based mainly on the discoveries of biomedicine that have transformed the fat body into a synonym not only of lack of health, but also a pejorative reflection of moral bankruptcy: a 'dehumanized body'. The purpose of this study was to analyze social representations of being fat through qualitative and interpretative analyses of fourteen cover stories published between 1997 and 2002 in Brazil by two weekly news magazines: VEJA and ISTOÉ. Through analyzing the bibliography and field materials, it examines the social representations of being fat today. This paper focuses on the concept of social representation and the ways in which this is used by the social sciences, leading to an understanding of why some issues - in this case the individual fat being - became more visible at a certain moment. These analyses show that the weekly magazines under analysis featured statements based on scientific and biomedical knowledge that legitimize the choice of a body type supposedly rated as 'ideal', viewed as synonymous with health, happiness and good cheer: the slim body. This brought fat under siege, with battle strategies being drawn up and - in the final analysis - falling back on being fat.

Keywords : Being fat; Social representations; Weekly magazine; Culture.

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