Professor Peter Stearns was recently interviewed by the National Public Radio show The Salt on the history of body image. In an article titled "The Forgotten History of Fat Men's Clubs", Tanya Basu drew on Stearns's research for the book Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West. From the interview:
Even at the height of chubby chic, being grossly, morbidly obese was never celebrated as a sign of beauty and wealth, explains Peter Stearns, a professor of history at George Mason University and author of Fat History. He notes that, while having wide hips and some girth was considered attractive for a woman — indicating her prosperity and fertility — "fat ladies" were often mocked and included as a freak show element in traveling circuses. Fat men weren't similarly lampooned, though they, too, faced ridicule: Tafrate's article mentions a child exclaiming: "Gee, look at that stomach! Let's get under it and keep out of the rain!"
March 14, 2016