Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 51–73

Fat, Fatigue and the Feminine: The Changing Cultural Experience of Women in Hong Kong


  • Sing Lee
    • Department of PsychiatryThe Chinese University of Hong Kong

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005451614729

Cite this article as:
Lee, S. Cult Med Psychiatry (1999) 23: 51. doi:10.1023/A:1005451614729


This paper seeks to demonstrate that rapid economic development in Hong Kong has transformed not only social structures but also Chinese women's subjectivity and bodily experience, thereby producing new forms of identity, aesthetics and aspirations, in addition to novel patterns of distress. Evidence is assembled to show that women's being-thin-yet-feeling-fat and being-active-yet-feeling-tired reflect not so much psychopathology as transformation in embodied moral experience. Because such normative experiences are grounded in the conflicting demands of production and reproduction that recent social transformations have brought to bear on women's lives, “fat” and “fatigue” can be said to embody what it is to become a woman in contemporary Hong Kong.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999