Heroic fatness
in Immersion
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This chapter argues that the demands on marathon swimmers to acquire body fat as insulation against the cold are in tension with conventional understandings of what constitutes the ‘good’ sporting body. For some swimmers, this tension is resolved through the mobilisation of ‘heroic fatness’, which renders the fat ‘fake’. However, this protection is not available to all, demonstrating the ways in which not all fat is equal, in spite of the universalised anti-fat narratives of the ‘war on obesity’. The chapter also highlights the ways in which diverse experiences of swimming fat unsettles anti-fat values. The chapter concludes with the importance of looking beyond impoverished, utilitarian visions of sport as a tool for weight management, and instead, of accessing sport’s manifold possibilities for pleasure and for new ways of thinking about sporting embodiment.


Marathon swimming, embodiment and identity



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