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Fat Studies, Feminism and Social Work
Transcript of Fat Studies, Feminism and Social Work
Getting to know FAT
What does it all mean?
the personal is political and vice versa
-the relatioship between social workers and FAT.
..the nature of FAT oppression
Implications for Social Work
Sydney Bell, RSW
What is FAT Studies?
critically assess the current panic over increasing body sizes
Social Control and MORAL PANIC
-an emerging interdisciplinary academic field,
-expand the understanding of fatness beyond the narrow confines of medicalisation or pathology,
-combines popular and high academic discourse with social justice concerns
-definition of fat as a fluid subject position relative to social norms
-my lens: an educated 45 year old white feminist
-past body image issues because of the experience of my body size,
-body positive fat activist
-BodyRespect: my venue for speaking out and teaching body positive values
-Health At Every Size educator and activist (more about that later!)
A FAT RANT
...if you exercise and eat right, and you still are fat....the world will not end!
-the nature of fat oppression
-obesity epidemic rhetoric
-the tones of SOCIAL CONTROL and MORAL PANIC in the current obesity dialogue - how do they compare with other oppressions that social workers engage in?
- what are your ingrained assumptions and prejudices about fat?
What Are Your First Impressions?
first words that come
impressions about health
level of intelligence?
level of success?
what words describe their body?
What Fat Oppression looks like:
-denial of health care and employment based on size,
-receive less pay than thinner people
-lower university admissions
-higher rates of suicide among fat children
Why are Social Workers Resistant to Fat Activism?
-the idea that supporting the fight against fat oppression equates fat stigma with other oppressions (poverty, race, gender) and thus minimize those issues.
-the belief that being fat is a matter of choice
FAT and Beauty
beauty 'ideal' vs. beauty 'standard'
beauty standards changes and are subject to social influence
We need to look INWARD and OUTWARD
"fat people do not deserve to be oppressed whether or not being fat is a choice"
Do fat bodies experience stigma in profound and quantifiable ways and in ways that run contrary to a commitment to social justice?
What we need to ask ourselves is:
But, Fat is UNHEALTHY, Right?
the relationship between health and fat is confounded with our cultural belief that
fat is unattractive
bias in health research
- correlation of fat and negative health outcomes in studies often viewed as causation
physical activity is a more reliable indicator of health. Fat active people have
better health outcomes
than thin, inactive people
HEALTH IMPACTS & COSTS OF confounding WEIGHT WITH HEALTH
-weight loss surgery
-thin people neglected in health messaging
-misdiagnoses: doctors often default to weight as the problem
-fat people often reluctant to visit health practitioners
be aware of current programs and awareness campaigns that have a weight loss focus
weight loss focus contributes to body shame - body shame is tied to unhealthy behaviors including eating disorders
Georgia's "Strong4Life" Campaign
Are we agents of
or agents of
-Fight against Fat is Waste of resources: where could our efforts be better spent?
-critical consumption of health research
-Monitoring our discourse
-Health at Every Size
consider the similarities of policing body size to policing welfare fraud
-who is the funder?
-what variables are considered? Does the study control for activity level? Yo-yo dieting? Nutrition patterns?
Be aware of what you say....
-awareness of negative comments about weight - yours or others
-avoiding fat jokes (or skinny jokes)
-do you talk about being 'good' or 'bad' when it comes to food choices, or how much you are exercising?
-become educated about thin privilege
Health at Every Size
Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honours internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.
Health at Every Size - Linda Bacon
Intuitive Eating - Tribole & Resch
Eating in the Light of the Moon - Johnston
The Beauty Myth - Wolf
The Obesity Myth - Campso
Fat! So? - Wann
Shapely Prose - Kate Harding
The Rotund - Lezely Kinzel
The Fat Nutritionist
Dances With Fat
a note on
-people of all sizes experience body policing and shaming, not just fat people
-however, only fat people are subject to broad-based discrimination and oppression based on their size
Examples of Thin Privilege
You’re not assumed to be unhealthy just because of your size.
When you’re at the grocery store, people don’t comment on the food selection in your cart in the name of “trying to be helpful.”
You can expect to find your clothing size sold locally.
You’re not the brunt of jokes for countless numbers of comedians.
You’re more likely to get a raise or promotion at work than someone who is fat.
The media doesn’t describe your body shape as part of an “epidemic”.