Styles of Communication, Vol 6, No 1 (2014)

On the Cultural and Cognitive Nature of the Skinny/Fatty Opposition

Agnieszka Grząśko


Insulting seems to be as old the history of the mankind. From the very beginning of our existence people have been interested in themselves and they have always been humilitating those weaker, poorer or less attractive ones. This article aims at presenting the scope of vocabulary used as the synonyms of skinny and fatty. First, we shall focus on the way fat and skinny people have been perceived throughout history. Interestingly enough, at various historical monents, and – in various parts of the world – the stereotypes about fat and skinny people have been changing and complementing. Then, we proceed to present the gender-specific division of all synonyms which have been taken into consideration. It is fitting to add that the number of means which are there at one’s disposal to describe a fat person is nearly twice as numerous as the list of those words that serve to encode the idea of being skinny. And last but not least, by means of cognitive apparatus and methodology we shall present the similarities and differences betweeen the synonyms of skinny and fatty.


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