What's at Stake in Fatness as a Disability?
Disability Studies Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 1, Winter 2006
30 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2006
This essay takes up the suggestion that fatness might be (or become) a disability, and uses the observations it yields to propose a new account of a way American antidiscrimination law governs identity categories and manages individuals. It would seem to be an improvement from a fat-rights perspective to gain coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to be able to enjoy accommodations at work and in public places. This article offers an integrated alternative to the medical and social models of disability, using fat discrimination as a case study to illuminate its implications. Fat identity is likely to be absorbed into what I call managerial individualism, characterized by on-site regulation and negotiation of people's functional capacities in an indeterminate process. The study sets out a new concept of identity in the law a managed process, not a status and proposes to turn scholarly discussion about governance, resistance, and identity formation toward recognizing the full implications of such a concept. Identity as a managed process has very little leverage on politics, I conclude, and showcases a type of individualism that is very easily overwhelmed.
Keywords: disability, obesity, fat discrimination, accommodation, individualism, management
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