Happy Fat Book Summary By Sofie Hagen

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Happy Fat, by Sofie Hagen (2019), is an eye-opening and powerful read that exposes the deep-seated prejudice and discrimination against fatness in today's society.

Hagen speaks from a place of understanding and personal experience, as she has lived through much of what is discussed in her book.

Happy Fat both dispels some of the misconceptions about fatness which are commonly accepted, arguing that there is often little correlation between being fat and actually being unhealthy.

It also goes further than this, to emphasize that instead of focusing on shaming those who are deemed ‘overweight’, we should instead be working to challenge the ideas and attitudes of fatphobia which exist in our society.

It is sure to serve as an important book for anyone interested in fighting fatphobia – or seeking a more just and understanding world.

Happy Fat Book

Book Name: Happy Fat (Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You)

Author(s): Sofie Hagen

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Categories: Book Summaries

Author Bio

Sofie Hagen is a multi-talented star whose career has taken her across the world.

A celebrated comedian, fat activist, writer and podcaster, she won the coveted Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015.

Her successes have seen her sell out venues in the UK and Europe as well as appear on BBC, ITV and Comedy Central.

A strong advocate of body positivity, Sofie has presented a documentary on fatness for Danish TV channel DR2 and was recording a special called How To Love Your Fat for BBC Radio Four before going on to write her book Happy Fat: Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You Down.

Challenging Fatphobia By Learning To Love Our Bodies And Reject Diet Culture

Diet Culture

In her book, Happy Fat, Sofie Hagen dives deep into the issue of fatphobia and shows readers why it’s essential to challenge our own internalized biases.

She explains that using euphemisms to describe a fat person – such as “well-padded” or “full figure” – is an implicit form of discrimination by blaming them for their size.

Hagen also reveals how diet culture has created this negative stigma towards being fat, and how most diets don’t work over the long term but people continue to pursue them due to fearmongering from the industry.

Additionally, she suggests watching feminist porn so viewers can celebrate all types of bodies regardless of size which can help to combat the internalized fatphobia that many of us hold.

This is valuable information for anyone looking to move past these toxic beliefs about bodies and open up their minds about something that shouldn’t be seen as taboo or shameful in any sense.

So if you want to challenge your own internalized fatphobia, be sure to read Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen!

Sofie Hagen’S Long Struggle With Dieting And Low Self-Esteem Leads To Self-Acceptance

From the moment she was a young girl, Sofie Hagen was taught that food was bad and her body was wrong.

This started when she was five years old, when a nurse told her mother she was overweight and should go on a diet.

The nurse had done no medical tests as evidence of this, yet persuaded so easily that Sofie’s mother immediately began to look for ways to get her daughter to lose weight.

As a result, Sofie was introduced to dieting and portion control, making her increasingly fixated on food while also believing there was something wrong with her body – causing immense pain in her life.

Throughout her teen years, Sofie attempted to lose weight through countless diets, shakes, and excessive exercise – though this only caused frustration as she continually put it back on due to the unrealistic demands of the diets.

Everyone around her seemed complicit in trying to mould her body into something different from how it already was; from her mother who thought she should diet harder to more outwardly painful instances such as having humiliation from PE teachers at school or feeling unable to believe compliments about herself from boyfriends.

Sofie yearned for an unobtainable slimness that would bring about both physical attractiveness and inner happiness.

The ‘Thin Sofie’ inside of her – which came out each time she lost some weight only for it soon come back – is one that wouldn’t exist due to an unending cycle of dieting and self-hatred caused by societal expectations of what beauty should look like.

But this wasn’t going be like this forever…

From Self-Loathing To Body Acceptance: How One Woman Reclaimed Her Confidence After Questioning Societal Messages On Appearance

Sofie had been taught from a young age that there was something wrong with her body and that she should hate it.

She even made jokes about it as a stand-up comedian, believing that she would one day love her body once she’d lost weight.

But then she met Andrea at college who changed her perspective dramatically.

Andrea showed Sofie how society instills negative thoughts about being fat in order to make money off the weight loss industry.

Before this epiphany, Sofie had blindly believed the negative messages around fatness without questioning them or where they came from.

But now she saw those ads with “before” and “after” pictures in a different light because they are part of an industry designed to shame people into losing weight and buying products – not actually encouraging healthy bodies.

It didn’t matter whether or not she could achieve the “ideal” body size portrayed in these images; it was enough that she allowed herself to love what she had right away, regardless of any external opinions.

This knowledge was powerful enough to allow her to throw away her scales and never diet again!

In this way, Sofie’s whole world changed when realized that she was allowed – and even encouraged – to love her body exactly how it is.

The Problem With Portrayals Of Fat People In Media: Why Unflattering Representations Need To Change


When Sofie started to take a closer look at the world around her, she started to become more aware of how prevalent fatphobia is in the media, pop culture, and the beauty industry.

She was disheartened to see that depictions of fat characters in movies and TV shows were almost always negative; they were portrayed as desperate, unintelligent, and as objects of ridicule.

Sitcoms were no better – fat people were characterized as lazy and comical.

The lessons that viewers can take away from these portrayals are clear: you couldn’t be both fat and happy in society.

Resulting from this outlook on life was Sofie’s realization that she had been brainwashed into hating her own body due to what she has seen in pop culture.

Fatness was presented as something that must be corrected rather than embraced.

As such, she felt compelled to spread awareness on this issue and work towards positive body image acceptance for all individuals regardless of their physical appearance.

The Myth Of Willpower: How Diets Never Achieve Sustainable Weight Loss

Sofie had always been taught that if she restricted her calories and worked hard enough, she could become thin.

But unfortunately, when it comes to dieting, what you put in does not necessarily equal the results you get out.

In an effort to survive, your body takes as much caloric value from your food as possible – resulting in fat being stored more quickly than it would be burnt off.

The diets we’re told follow are designed by the weight-loss industry to produce short-term success – making customers happy and keeping them coming back for more.

Behind closed doors though, the truth is clear: these diets don’t work long-term and only serve to make the industry richer while leaving customers disappointed and depleted.

Take The Biggest Loser for example – despite contestants drastically cutting calories and exercising rigorously during their time on the show, thirteen out of fourteen were back to their original weight just six years later – four were even heavier than before they started!

It’s a self-sabotaging cycle that many of us have bought into: with each new diet promising a change if we try hard enough yet never delivering on its promise – because it was never meant to!

So rather than punishing yourself with restrictive diets any longer, why not put down the empty promises and start looking after yourself?

Fatphobia Is A Medical And Societal Problem That Hurts People’S Health

It is commonly assumed that being fat means that you are unhealthy, but this is a myth.

In reality, there are both healthy and unhealthy people at any size, as numerous scientific studies have shown.

One key example comes from the study “Actual Causes of Death in the US,” which was released in 1993 by scientists Michael McGinnis and William Foege.

The study concluded that poor diets and low activity levels were a leading cause of death – not obesity itself.

Despite this, many later articles inaccurately interpreted this data to mean “obesity is a leading cause of death” – thus creating a false equivalence between being fat and being unhealthy.

In 2014, another important article was released in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

Scientists argued here that physically fit fat people actually had the same health risks as fit thin people, proving that it’s exercise-based approaches to health that yield greater results than weight-loss based approaches.

This too undermined the common belief linking fatness with bad health.

Moreover, research has shown that the discrimination faced by fat people can have more serious health consequences than the fat itself – due to medical bias where doctors don’t treat obese patients as they would normally treat thin patients.

Overall, it’s clear that while being overweight can increase some health risks if not monitored carefully, it’s certainly not an automatic indicator of bad health nor should it lead to discriminatory practices by medical professionals or society at large.

Fat Shaming: An Unhelpful And Unjust Practice That Does More Harm Than Good

Fat Shaming

Fat individuals often face levels of discrimination and hostility that can severely affect both their mental and physical health.

This is due to the stigma of being “overweight” in our society today.

Studies have shown that people who experience prejudice find it harder to get jobs, are paid less, feel immense levels of stress and even experience physical health consequences such as hypertension and heart disease.

The misconception here is that those discriminating against fat people are doing it out of a concern for their health, when in fact the opposite is true.

A 2013 study was published which found that unhappiness with one’s weight correlated with a higher rate of diabetes and hypertension compared to those who were satisfied with their size – further proving that cruel comments can be detrimental to someone’s wellbeing.

It has become all too common for people to criticize others for being overweight; however this problem can no longer be ignored.

Now more than ever do fat individuals need advocacy, understanding and acceptance – because imposing shame upon them does nothing but worsen the situation in terms of both mental and physical health.

How To Be An Ally To Fat People: Talk Up, Don’T Stay Silent, And Promote Intersectional Activism

There are concrete steps we can all take to reduce fatphobia in our society.

The first step is to become aware of the privileges that being thin affords you, and to recognize what your thin friends in particular don’t have to worry about when they go out – like whether or not they will fit into a chair.

Having this understanding makes it easier for us all to practice solidarity and actively support those around us who are dealing with discrimination because of their size.

Another way we can tackle fatphobia is by refusing to be complicit in hatred directed at fat people.

This means speaking up if someone makes fun of a fat person either online or if you’re standing with a group of friends.

We can also use our platforms online and amplify the voices of fat activists doing important work, by sharing their posts so that more people can see them.

It’s also important for us to realize that there isn’t one experience with discrimination; fat people may face intersectional-discrimination based on multiple factors such as their race, sexuality or disability status.

Therefore, when we do activism against fatphobia, it’s crucial that we remember this fact and make sure we’re including everyone’s experiences – not just those who are white, able-bodied or straight/cisgendered while ignoring disabled, black or queer/trans individuals.

Learning To Love Your Body: Strategies For Self-Acceptance In A Culture Of Fatphobia


We live in a world that continuously tells us that our bodies are unhealthy, unattractive, and disgusting if they are not a certain size.

But with the help of others and alternative representations of fat bodies, it is possible to learn to see beauty in ourselves and celebrate our bodies for all their curves.

Sofie experienced this kind of transformation when she accepted her body at age 23 and saw what freedom it allowed her to have instead of wasting years stuck in self-hatred and loathing.

It’s not an easy task to achieve self-love when you’re living with these external voices weighing down on you.

You don’t need to love yourself to be worthy; it’s okay if some days are harder than others.

So how can we cultivate our internal sense of self-worth? We can try surrounding ourselves with other people who also love their bodies unconditionally.

Today, there are many radical fat support groups online which host events such as clothing swaps and dance parties – all focused on celebrating the beauty of plus-size bodies.

These experiences can inspire us to start showing off ours!

We can allow ourselves the opportunity to stand out by wearing colours or patterns that would usually feel ‘off limits’, taking pictures of our bare stomachs or chins from below, or looking into the mirror with admiration instead of hatred.

Finally, opening our eyes up to different representations by seeking out photos from inclusive sources or watching feminist porn will help inoculate us from any negative messages we might encounter in mainstream media.

No matter your size, celebrating your body is possible!

Wrap Up

The Happy Fat Book has an inspiring message of body acceptance and embracing one’s fatness.

This powerful book advocates for the end of fat-shaming and encourages people to wear the title “fat” proudly.

The author also shares actionable advice on how to foster a healthy relationship with food and our bodies, such as changing how we view food and talking about it in a pragmatic way without labeling it as good or bad.

The Happy Fat Book provides a fresh perspective on breaking down diet culture and celebrating one’s fatness, showing us that we can be worthy, intelligent, sexy – and yes – fat too!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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