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Customer Discussions > Voyager (Outlander) forum

What does Gabaldon have against fat people?

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Showing 1-25 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 30, 2009 4:13:58 PM PDT
I mean seriously...her hatred of overweight people is so obvious in this book that I am wondering if a fat person slept with her husband, slapped her children and stole her dog. I mean, Claire is writing a heartfelt letter to the daughter she may never see again and the best advice she can think to give her is "don't get fat"? All through the book unsavory characters and bad guys alike are described as fat or obese. Abernathy basically tells Claire that she doesn't have to worry about Jamie wanting her because she isn't fat, Claire makes a point of telling Jamie that men his age usually get fat and it's a good thing he didn't.

I mean, I enjoy these books, but the fatphobia that pervades Voyager is disgusting and off-putting

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 1:31:50 PM PST
Regina says:
Interesting -- I had not noticed until you posted!

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 1:58:49 PM PST
I think it's a cultural reference. During the time that Claire wrote that letter, you didn't have Emme and plus-sized models showing the world that beauty is beauty regardless of the size it comes in. As for the past in Voyager, food was scarce, people starved, and fat folks were thus considered gluttons, greedy, or somehow taking from others. So from the 2009 perspective they seem ugly, in context it is okay.

Posted on Nov 19, 2009 7:52:36 PM PST
BluePhoenixRising - I agree with you. She does come across as very antifat in Voyager. It's very, as you say, off-putting and I have friends that have commented on the same thing. I've met her in person to have my books signed (years ago) and she's a petite woman who is slender. Also the description of the fat woman next to Claire on the plane is very uncomplimentary and makes me about some of Diana's airplane experiences. Yet, in Outlander, Castle Leoch's housekeeper, Mistress FitzGibbons is a fat character who is seen very positively.

Jedibarrister - yes, 1960's was the era where Twiggy forever changed the public idea of how much women should weigh. Yet, obesity wasn't quite the problem it is today. Interesting.... I also believe that in the 1700's having extra weight meant you were prosperous and could afford more food, sweets, etc. But I still don't think those passages are OK, even in context.

The two referenced parts of DiA have always felt mean spirited and judgmental to me. Just my perception.


Posted on Nov 20, 2009 5:36:26 AM PST
It depended on where you were. In Scotland at this point in time, many had suffered ravaging hunger and famine after the final battle. Claire got Jenny prepared for it by planting potatoes but not everyone had food. So from one side, yes fat meant prosperous. From the other side, it meant you were greedy while others starved.

Posted on Nov 28, 2009 2:10:28 PM PST
Regina says:
I also notice that the term "plump" or "plump lassie" is used as a compliment toward women - -I assume this means voluptious or curvy, not chubby or how we mean plump. Jamie seems to really like Claire's so called "plump" behind. ;)

Posted on Jul 28, 2010 1:23:11 PM PDT
Chris says:
Actually didn't Jamie more often refer to Claire's bumm as a "fine fat arse"?

I agree not necessairly meaning fat as we think of it but as voluptious.

As a person of size myself, I didn't take offense to the negative references. In fact, I took it more from the standpoint of the wife who sees her husbands old girlfriend who just so happens to be packing some extra cushin.

Posted on Aug 21, 2010 5:43:20 AM PDT
A. Cronen says:
I'm with chris on this. Claire is returning to the 18th century and is apprehensive about how Jamie will receive her. Did he remarry, someone younger, prettier, thinner? Men Jamie's age commonly wed women/ girls quite a bit younger than them in those days. And Claire being a physician may have wanted to give some good advice to her one and only daughter she will never see again.
I also think dianes's image of fat is veer different than ours, or may I say Hollywood and entertainment. When she sees Bree in the awful green dress at the stones, Bree replies that it was the only one in a size 16. In fact I read somewhere that Claire was more like a size 10 by modern standards, and she is always mentioned as strong, not lithe or skinny.
And then of course Jamie always has something to say about her "arse.". He likes her plump.
As far as the fat observations, I just think Diane observes everything around our characters, both pretty an ugly, fat and thin, teeth or no teeth, and when she does you feel you are right there experiencing it with Claire!

Posted on Aug 30, 2010 2:53:45 PM PDT
D. Hunter says:
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Posted on Sep 12, 2011 12:37:35 AM PDT
Seashell158 says:
I have just started reading this series, and I too found that there is a singular bias against large people. I was so curious about this fact that I wrote and asked the author about it. She hasn't written back. But I am glad that I am not the only person who noticed the seeming dislike towards heavier people.

Posted on Aug 1, 2012 12:23:12 PM PDT
I also think that Gabaldon has a touch of discrimination against fat people,but looking at her picture her face is not that small, actually is quite round.To Seashell158, I won't hold my breath for Gabaldon to answer you is called GUILT.

Posted on Dec 4, 2012 3:24:54 AM PST
danae says:
This is such an odd accusation to be making. Some people do take pride in remaining slim and that has nothing to do with discrimination. It is just a matter of own, personal preferences and truth be told, it is quite an accomplishment to manage to remain slim when the years go by, so why should the effort not be acknowledged? Claire is a character and as such she has her own prepossessions. Should we also start accusing Diana of being prejudiced against blonde people ( Loaghaire, Bonnet )?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 5:40:31 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 4, 2012 5:46:56 AM PST
Seashell158 says:
Hi Danae,
I do not mind the fact that people are described as thin or slim in Ms. Gabaldon's books. But I do believe there is a bias toward larger people going on in this series. It's the way most of the larger people are described. Not only stating the fact that they are large, but with some real malice and loathing. Try reading the characterizations without any prejudice, and most of the time you will see that the bad guys, and the really unlikeable folks are the heavies, (pun intended.)

Posted on Dec 4, 2012 6:49:47 AM PST
danae says:
Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, Stephen Bonnet, Dougal MacKenzie, Phillip Wylie, Malva Christie, William Buccleigh MacKenzie...some of the main "bad guys" in the series and some of the most "unlikable folks" in the series. Most of them are described as slim. So, I fail to see how the author is portraying the baddies as large when the vast majority of them are definitely not described as heavy. I have no favoritism of thin people over larger ones and the assumption that I read with any "prejudice" says more about the accusers preconceptions than the receiving one's.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 7:06:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Aug 6, 2014 8:51:54 PM PDT
Seashell158 says:
Danae, we each have our own take on any given subject. I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one. To me, it seems that Ms. Gabaldon has a definite outlook on the larger folks she populates her books with. And it is not a very pleasant one.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 10:28:59 PM PST
I am inclined to agree with how off-putting some of her descriptions of people are. I just got to the part of the "the Chinese" and its insulting caricature, and I am not sure I want to continue.

Posted on Mar 31, 2013 6:23:15 PM PDT
A friend recommended this series to me & I decided to come read some reviews before investing time & money into it. After reading this discussion I don't think I will waste either on this Author. Weight is a touchy subject to me, I have lost 70 pounds, so I see things from both ends & even though some of those "chubby" terms may not apply to me anymore, they're hurtful & insensitive. I read for enjoyment, not to feel guilty b/c of body size being thrown in my face.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2013 6:25:37 PM PDT
Thank you for your post, I came here trying to decide on buying this series. I did not realize this issue with the Author

Posted on May 28, 2013 8:14:24 AM PDT
A. Morris says:
Started Outlander a month ago, now halfway through Voyager. I am entrhralled, they are awesome books, incredible stories, beautiful writing. Some little references Gabaldon makes to plump, chubby, slim etc, can be seen as a part of reality. I think it has NOTHING to do with 1968, 1946, or 1746. What comes across CLEARLY to me is that Gabaldon thinks that fat beyond 10 pounds extra is UGLY. And she obviously equates sexual desirability with a firm fit body no matter how old one is. So there is ageism there too. Old people who are not slim, firm, tone etc cannot be sexy and desirable. I think this is how she feels and that is OK. She feels what she feels. But because anorexia, bulimia and morbid obesity are medical diagnoses, and they take LIVES, I would be much happier if, on this subject, she keeps her feelings out of her wildly popular books. We do not need to teach the young that it is OK to describe how annoyed you are by a 300 pound woman next to you on the plane. Its OK to be annoyed but SUCK IT UP. Life is full of annoying situations. You don't have to HATE people who annoy you. Come on Diana, have a heart. I know you are a good person. These books were written 19 years ago and I bet anything Diana doesn't do this anymore. I'll let you know after I finish ALL her books. Diana I love you. No one is perfect.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 6, 2014 7:39:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 6, 2014 7:49:17 PM PDT
Denver Girl says:
Here here! That is when I decided I was done. Her ridiculous attempt to capture 70's attitude with Abernathy and his jive talk was bad. The comments about short men in book two were appalling, but the line in the letter to her daughter, combined with all the previous comments are what finally made me decide NO MORE. I don't like the author or her heroine. Some pretty deep seated paranoia about short fat people. OBVIOUSLY no one could refer a short chubby woman to her tall reminded me of my husband and the whole baby contest thing when my boys were little, how tall will they be, biggest and tallest wins! ....infuriated me. Pirates will want me at 50 years old over an 18 year old because I am not fat and I am tall. really??? keep dreaming sweetheart. Don't even get me started on her treatment of the drunk China man. OMG, it blew me away. I was an English Major, I read everything, and I have never seen such naked prejudices and insulting treatment of race, weight, height, age and even sex, (think about her constant gay characters and how they all LOVE Jamie, makes me puke).

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2014 8:07:21 AM PDT
A. Morris says:
Can't agree with your reference to how in the time of Voyager fat folks were considered gluttond because they still are today! And the airplane scene where Claire rails against the fat person next to her was modern day.

Posted on Aug 7, 2014 4:11:36 PM PDT
Seashell158 says:
A.Morris, would you agree that in general, the way Ms.Gabaldon generalizes heavy folks is on the whole repellent? As if being a larger size were a plague? Taking into consideration that in Outlander she describes Claire is a larger size woman herself. When you read the books in this series, the overwhelming thread that runs throughout is that there's a prejudice against heaver people, and anyone from China.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2014 5:12:44 PM PDT
A. Morris says:
Yes, but I seem to think, without actually rereading the books, that Diana toned her prejudices down quite a bit after Book 3 or 4. Doesn't mean she doesn't still have them, but I think she realized she was hurting people and making herself look bad too. And she is not alone. Most people who have never been more than 10% overweight have no understanding of the hell that the morbidly obese go through, and therefore have no compassion for their plight. Society has BARELY changed in the last 100 years, though we'd like to think we have (plus sized models, big celebs etc) Look at the hell that Kirstie Alley is subjected to. Yes, it is really wrong-the racial/cultural stereotyping as well. I don't know how Diana sells a single book in China!

Posted on Aug 7, 2014 5:29:06 PM PDT
Have ya'll seen Diana? She's no Barbie herself. So I hardly think she's prejudiced.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2014 2:45:39 AM PST
Gray King says:
Having just watched the second episode of the Outlander Series and...having read the first four in her books, I say to Diana Gabaldon Hooo-blooming-ray, stick to your wonderful fat-free stories...these people who have to be so PC about fat people should be (would be) left behind in the race (your fabulous race) for romantic, erotic descriptions. The very thought of a great lardy tub taking centre stage in a bedroom scene is crinkly faced awful!!! I say...Leave Ms. Gabaldon alone. She didn't get to the heights of her writing career listening to your inappropriate negative statements about fat slobbery people. who you want to be the main characters!!!! Who is writing the damn book? You're nuts!
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Discussion in:  Voyager (Outlander) forum
Participants:  20
Total posts:  37
Initial post:  Oct 30, 2009
Latest post:  Mar 23, 2016

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Voyager (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon (Paperback - August 3, 1995)
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