Fat Writing

I am the author of two books about fat activism, a long-standing blog and a number of articles and chapters.


Cooper, C. (2016) Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement. Bristol: HammerOn Press.

fatactivism150x240Based on my PhD thesis, this book is a rare insider’s view of fat activism. It is part of a new wave of accessible, accountable and rigorous work emerging through Research Justice and the Para-Academy. In this book I draw out the limitations of previous work on fat activism and explain what it looks like in the 21st century. I chart fat feminist histories to try and understand where fat activism comes from, and explain how those ideas travelled and became stuck. I discuss current critical concerns within the movement, such as consumerism, racism and healthism. I describe how queer fat feminism might offer more useful ways of doing and thinking about fat activism as well as social change more broadly.

More information and ordering via HammerOn Press.

Cooper, C. (1998) Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size. London: The Women’s Press.

fat and proudThis book came out of my Master’s dissertation and is one of the first pieces of work to describe and theorise fat activism. It is one of the founding texts in the field of Fat Studies. It pre-dates and anticipates some of the debates that are now commonplace because of obesity epidemic rhetoric. It includes first person accounts, critiques not only the medicalisation of fatness but also the pathologising of it through books such as Fat Is A Feminist Issue, and proposes an alternative way of thinking about fat, based on the Social Model of Disability. The book explores fat people’s agency, which it outlines and locates in historical-cultural terms, and endorses the shift towards civil rights. Unfortunately there are significant absences in the book because of the publisher’s refusal to engage with trans and queer people or critiques of radical lesbian feminism.


I blog about fat at Obesity Timebomb.

My 2007 essay Headless Fatties has been somewhat influential.

Academic publishing, journalism and chapters in edited collections

Cooper, C. (1996) ‘Fitting’, in: Bernstein, R. & Clark Silberman, S. (eds.) Generation Q: gays, lesbians and bisexuals born around 1969’s Stonewall riots tell their stories of growing up in the age of information. Los Angeles: Alyson.

Cooper, C. (1997) ‘Can a Fat Woman Call Herself Disabled?’, Disability & Society, 12: 1, 31-41. (available in translation as ‘Darf sich einer übergewichtige Frau «behindert» nennen?’ in Weisser, J. and Renggli, C. (2004), ed. Disability Studies: Ein lesebuch. Switzerland: SZH CSPS Edition).

Cooper, C. (2009) ‘Fat Activism in Ten Astonishing, Beguiling, Inspiring and Beautiful Episodes’, in: Tomrley, C. & Kaloski Naylor, A. (eds.) Fat Studies In The UK. York: Raw Nerve Books, 19-31.

Cooper, C. (2009) ‘Maybe it should be called Fat American Studies?’, in: Rothblum, E. & Solovay, S. (eds.) The Fat Studies Reader. New York: New York University Press, 327-333.

Cooper, C. (2010) ‘Olympics/Uhlympics: Living in the Shadow of the Beast’ [online], thirdspace, 9:2. Available: http://www.thirdspace.ca/journal/article/view/cooper

Cooper, C. (2010) ‘Fat Studies: Mapping The Field’, Sociology Compass, 4: 12, 1020-1034.

Cooper, C. (2011) ‘Review: Sander Gilman: Fat: A Cultural History of Obesity’, Sociology, 45: 1, 181-183.

Cooper, C. (2011) ‘Fat Lib: How Activism Expands The Obesity Debate’, in: Rich, E., Monaghan, L. & Aphramor, L. (eds.) Debating Obesity: Critical Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 164-191.

Cooper, C. (2012) ‘A Queer and Trans Fat Activist Timeline: Queering Fat Activist Nationality and Cultural Imperialism’. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society. 1:1, 61-74.

Cooper, C. (2012) ‘Hey Sisters, Welcome to My World,’ in Tovar, V. Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion. Berekeley, CA: Seal Press, 65-70.

Cooper, C. (2013) ‘A Quick and Dirty Intro to Fat Activism’, [online], available: http://forbookssake.net/2013/07/03/a-quick-and-dirty-intro-to-fat-activism/

Cooper, C. (2013) ‘Benefit cuts for the obese are driven by fat panic and class hatred’, Comment is Free [online], available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/03/benefit-cuts-obese

Cooper, C. (2013) ‘There’s no need for this obesity epidemic hysteria’, Comment is Free [online], available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/18/obesity-epidemic-hysteria

Cooper, C. (2014) ‘No More Stitch-Ups!,’ in Wardrop, A. and Withers, D. (eds.) The Para-Academic Handbook. Bristol: HammerOn Press, 206-231.

Cooper, C. (2016) ‘Research Justice: Some Handy Questions’ in Let’s Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy [online]. Gothenburg. Available: http://whatisfeministpedagogy.tumblr.com/workbook

Cooper, C. (2016) ‘The rhetoric around obesity is toxic. So I created a new language for fat people’, The Guardian. [online] London. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/26/rhetoric-obesity-toxic-new-language-fat-people

Cooper, C. (2017) ‘Food Choice Stories’ in Morgenmuffel, I., ed. Eat Like It Matters: Food choice, nutrition and wellbeing in a capitalist food system, London: Active Distribution, 100-102.

Cooper, C. (2017) in Πολιτικά Χοντρέλες/ Political Fatties ‘Διαστάσεις του Πάχονς Ως πολιτική ταυτότητα/ Aspects of Fatness as a Political Identity’. Athens: Queer Ink.

Cooper, C. & Murray, S. (2012) ‘Fat Activist Community: A Conversation Piece’, Somatechnics, 2:1, 127-138.

Evans B. and Cooper, C. (2016) Reframing fatness: critiquing ‘obesity’ in Whitehead, A. and Woods, A. (eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Gingras, J. and Cooper, C. (2013) ‘Down the Rabbit Hole: A Critique of the ® in HAES®’, Journal of Critical Dietetics, 1(3), 2-5.