Criminality and Corpulence: Weight Bias in the Courtroom

11 Seattle J. for Soc. Just. 523 (2013)

36 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2010 Last revised: 2 Apr 2019

See all articles by Valena Elizabeth Beety

Valena Elizabeth Beety

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Date Written: August 27, 2010

Abstract

Fat Studies, while burgeoning, is not new. The area is, however, under heightened scrutiny as investigative journalism articles, frightening statistics, and First Lady Obama’s own jumpstart initiative all point to the current issue of obesity in America. In spite of the surfeit of current attention, scholars have yet to address or acknowledge the intersection between fatism and criminal justice. While Deborah Barnes recently published an extensive article and book about the role of appearance in society and discrimination, pointing to employment discrimination suits in particular, no one has examined the palpable impact of obesity on the gaze and decision-making of a jury, a judge, and the role of obesity in our criminal system as a whole. Just as an individual is discriminated against through hiring, job promotion, and equal treatment due to her size, this article will posit that the appearance of obese defendants is used against them and connected with concepts of fault, guilt, and blame. The article seeks to establish this bias through examining cases and comparing social studies.

Keywords: obesity, fatism, criminal justice, defendant, victim

Suggested Citation

Beety, Valena Elizabeth, Criminality and Corpulence: Weight Bias in the Courtroom (August 27, 2010). 11 Seattle J. for Soc. Just. 523 (2013), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1667136 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1667136

Valena Elizabeth Beety (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

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