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
Date Written: August 27, 2010
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
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