Too Much to Belong: Latina/o Racialization, Obesity Epidemic Discourse, and Unassimilable Corporeal Excess

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This project examines the discursive constructions of Latina/o bodies as excessive in order to examine how Latinas/os are excluded from belonging to the U.S. nation-state. By approaching Latina/o Studies from a Fat Studies perspective, it works to more adequately address the role of embodiment in determining processes of racialization that directly impact Latinas/os in the United States, especially in light of the role of race and racism in “obesity epidemic” discourse. This dissertation argues that cultural and even physiological explanations about the Latina/o propensity for “overweight” and “obesity” create a discourse that marks the Latina/o body as demonstrating an unassimilable corporeal excess. In turn, the rhetoric of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” are rendered inapplicable to Latinas/os, as demonstrated by both nativist and seemingly pro-immigrant discourses that posit Latina/o physical excess in the form of fatness as detrimental and even dangerous to the U.S. nation-state.