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Happy Fat

Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You

By Sofie Hagen
15-minute read
Audio available
Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen

In Happy Fat (2019) Sofie Hagen reveals how painful it is to grow up fat in a society filled with prejudice and discrimination. She dispels entrenched myths about fatness, arguing that the correlation between being fat and being unhealthy has been misrepresented and that fatphobia – rather than fatness – is the dangerous social epidemic that we as a society need to challenge.  

  • Comedy lovers who want to learn more about the life of a funny, fresh voice
  • Fat activists looking for resources on how to deal with fatphobia
  • People curious about the commercial interests that fuel the weight-loss industry

Sofie Hagen is a celebrated comedian, fat activist, writer, and podcaster. She won the Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015 and has since sold out venues across the UK and Europe. She has also appeared on the BBC, ITV, and Comedy Central. She presented a documentary on fatness for Danish TV channel DR2 and is currently recording a special called How To Love Your Fat for BBC Radio Four.  

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Happy Fat

Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You

By Sofie Hagen
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen
Synopsis

In Happy Fat (2019) Sofie Hagen reveals how painful it is to grow up fat in a society filled with prejudice and discrimination. She dispels entrenched myths about fatness, arguing that the correlation between being fat and being unhealthy has been misrepresented and that fatphobia – rather than fatness – is the dangerous social epidemic that we as a society need to challenge.  

Key idea 1 of 9

From the time she was young, Sofie was taught that food was bad and her body was wrong.

Sofie Hagen’s relationship to food became complicated when she was just five years old. A nurse told her mother that she was overweight and would have to go on a diet because it was “dangerous” to her health. 

The nurse had done no medical tests, but she was so persuasive that Sofie’s mother immediately started trying to find ways to help her daughter lose weight. Sofie was introduced to a regime of dieting and portion control. But all this did was make her even more fixated on food and determined to find new ways to get it. It also gave her the message from very early on that there was something wrong with her body. This was extremely painful, and she started to eat more as a way of numbing the pain.

As a teenager, Sofie’s attempts to lose weight only intensified. She tried countless new diets, consumed only diet shakes, and did every form of exercise she could think of – from swimming to pilates to karate. She would periodically lose weight but always put it on again when she could no longer comply with the unrealistic demands of whatever diet she was on. 

This made her hate herself and her body even more intensely. She saw herself as a weak person without any willpower. She dissociated from her body and resorted to bulimia in an effort to lose weight. 

The outside world only reinforced her negative beliefs. Her mother was complicit in trying to force her to diet, giving her the message that her body needed to be changed. Her PE teacher would humiliate her in class, taunting her and forcing her to shower naked in front of her classmates. 

Sofie became so convinced that she was unattractive that even when boyfriends tried to tell her that they liked her body, she was unable to believe them. 

She dreamed of the “thin Sofie” who lived inside her, who would come out one day when she lost enough weight. Thin Sofie would be attractive and happy and successful. Thin Sofie would be fit and graceful and wear beautiful clothes. 

The desire to be thin took up much of Sofie’s childhood and all of her teens. But that was all about to change.

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