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The New Woke Universities’ Social Justice Crusade: Fighting Fatphobia

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‘Health justice’ is emerging as a new agenda item at universities across the country as progressive scholars attempt to eliminate ‘fatphobia’ or the cultural stigma of obesity, including removing the word ‘obesity’. himself.

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health defines weight stigma as “discrimination or stereotyping based on a person’s weight”, which it says is “reported at comparable to racism and constitute one of the last types of discrimination still tolerated and practiced”. by public health and medical experts. »


The University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) campus in Chicago in October 2020. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
(Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“The incidence of weight stigma has increased by 66% with the rise of public health campaigns to end the ‘obesity epidemic,'” the school says.

The school released a policy brief titled “Tackling Weight Stigma and Fatphobia in Public Health” in October, which said the country’s focus on body size was “rooted in racism” going back to Charles Darwin, and advised against using “extremely stigmatizing”. words like “obesity” in favor of terms like “people in larger bodies.”

“While lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exercise are important, it is essential to note the historical racism and injustices in our current food environment,” the brief states. “As presented by Soul Fire Farm, the American food system is being built on stolen land using the stolen labor of indigenous black and Latino peoples. Not only has this created large-scale food apartheid and trauma for the indigenous peoples of this land, but it has caused a disconnection of indigenous peoples from their cultural practices and identities”.

The New Woke Universities’ Social Justice Crusade: Fighting Fatphobia

Obese person measuring his belly.
(Credit: iStock)

Several schools across the country have held fatphobia events over the past few weeks.

Last week, the Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston hosted a conference on “Big Phobia as Misogynoir: Gender, Race, and the Stigma of Weight,” where Sabrina Strings , an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, addressed “the fat stigma” and the “centrality of slavery and racial science in its perpetuation across the Western world.”

During the lecture, Strings argued that the medical field “took over anti-fattening in the wake of social and cultural shifts in thinking about race and female propriety in the early 20th century.”

Strings also gave the talk at Boston University and Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

Also last week, Amherst College in Massachusetts hosted a panel discussion titled “Unpacking Fatphobia: Learning to Love Your Body,” which promised attendees “games, snacks, and a raffle.”

“Are you frustrated with social media comments about people’s bodies?” the description of the read event. “Have you ever wondered about the history of diet culture/fat phobia? Do you want to know the difference between body positivity and body neutrality movements?”

The New Woke Universities’ Social Justice Crusade: Fighting Fatphobia

Students relax at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD on February 5, 2018.


In February, Claremont McKenna College in California hosted a lecture titled “Fatphobia and Capitalism” by Ragen Chastain, a self-proclaimed “fathlete.”

During the conference, Chastain explained how “capitalism, weight stigma, and food culture intersect to create marginalization, alienation, and harm to people of all sizes” and discussed “strategies to mitigate and transform the status quo around body size culture”.

The apparent trend on college campuses to combat fatphobia follows a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study last year that found that more than half of young American adults, ages 18 to 25 years, are overweight or obese.

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