Overweight professors across academe describe battles to achieve self-acceptance, full inclusion in academic life, and genuine respect from students and colleagues. Vitae reports that:
“Some struggle daily to navigate campus spaces that don’t comfortably accommodate their size. Some stand in front of classrooms and wonder whether their bodies influence how students perceive their minds. Some say they have trouble adhering to exercise plans or healthy eating habits because their jobs come with lots of research and little structure.Yet larger professors often grapple with these concerns in isolation and silence. On a national level, discussions of obesity have become increasingly common—and, at times, increasingly contentious. But many fat professors, along with allies in the emerging field of fat studies, feel that colleges and universities have yet to hold productive conversations on the topic, especially when it comes to “fat shaming” and how size influences hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions.
“The situation for fat academics has worsened as our national discourse about obesity has ramped up,” says Christina Fisanick, an associate professor of English at California University of Pennsylvania.Fisanick has tracked the discourse for some time, in part because she herself has struggled with obesity. (Due to a binge-eating disorder, her weight has risen as high as 353 pounds; it’s now down to 228.) Writing in 2007 for Feminist Teacher, she pointed out that the few fat professors depicted on film are treated farcically: Think of Sherman Klump in Eddie Murphy’s remake of The Nutty Professor, for example, or the unnamed (but Colonel Sandersesque) biology professor played by Robert Kokol in Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy. These images, according to Fisanick, affect students’, professors’, and administrators’ expectations of what a scholar should look like.Fisanick’s piece also hinted at a question that many fat academics have found themselves asking: Will they face bias in job interviews or in tenure and promotion decisions? Continue reading “Weighty academic issues”
Fat-shaming — the process of insulting, ostracizing, or otherwise stigmatizing people who appear overweight — actually does far more harm than good, according to new research reported by ThinkProgress.
“In fact, overweight people who face weight discrimination are likely to eat more, exercise less, and have a higher chance of ending up obese.
“Researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine conducted an experiment where they tracked a nationally representative population of Americans between 2006 and 2010. The findings were striking. Americans who were overweight in 2006 — but not obese — and stigmatized for it were two and half times more likely to end up obese four years later than those who hadn’t been fat-shamed. Furthermore, those who were obese at the beginning of the study were three times more likely to still be obese in 2010 if they faced weight discrimination.
“There is robust evidence that internalizing weight-based stereotypes, teasing and stigmatizing experiences are associated with more frequent binge eating,” wrote the researchers. They also believe the stress caused by overweight Americans’ public and personal humiliation elevates hormones that promote weight-gain — a trend that has been witnessed in other demographics with high stress levels, too. Continue reading “Fat shaming’s effects”
About 69 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, and more than four in five people say they are worried about obesity as a public health problem, reports NPR:
“But a recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health revealed a curious schism in our national attitudes toward obesity: Only one in five kids had a parent who feared the boy or girl would grow up to be overweight as an adult. Continue reading “Your child is fat”
Among the least likely viral megahits on YouTube is a 90-minute lecture by the food scold and pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.”
“Public reception of Lustig’s new book, Fat Chance, will likely be just as divided,” reports todays Salon.com. “The book repeats and expands on the main point of contention in the sugar wars: whether our bodies treat all calories the same. The old guard says yes: A calorie is a calorie; steak or soda, doesn’t matter. Eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Continue reading “Sugar is the new tobacco”