Fieldwork in Religion, Vol 8, No 1 (2013)

Sin or Slim? Christian morality and the politics of personal choice in a secular commercial weight loss setting

Hannah Jayne Bacon
Issued Date: 29 Oct 2013


Is fat a sin? Popular ‘knowledge’ about obesity which frames fat as an avoidable behavioural condition would certainly suggest it can be blamed on the fat person. Discourses of health reproduced within public policy and media reporting assist in the pathologization of fat bodies, insisting that fat is the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. It is, however, not simply medical interpretations of fat that facilitate this moral discourse. Religion also provides an important source of moral judgment. This paper draws on my qualitative research inside a UK secular, commercial slimming group to consider how the Christian moral language of sin functions within this setting to construct a politics of choice that holds the dieter personally responsible for her fat. Interpreting weight loss and weight gain as a measure of moral character, this theological language assists in the operation of ‘normative conformity’, conforming women’s bodies to cultural knowledge about fat.

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DOI: 10.1558/firn.v8i1.92


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