Teaching Feminism and Fat Studies

This term, I’ve been teaching a special topics course in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University entitled “Adipossibilities of Feminist Fat Studies.” To my knowledge, this is the first fat studies course at SFU, although fat activism has taken place on campus for a number of years. With any new course there come many challenges, but this topic itself is also very challenging given current social, political, and economic discourse about fat. I shared the following with my students to set the tone for the course:

  • You do not have a body, you are a body
  • You have experiences, beliefs, and assumptions that are shaped by your embodied, worldly being
  • Your body is a site of politics, history, place, feeling, and memory
  • Your body in-folds your internal and external worlds; every day, you live this involution
  • We can’t talk about fat without talking about intimate places of our being
  • A body gives testimony of trauma and of thriving
  • Not everyone gets to equally enjoy, love, and agentially control their bodies
  • Weight discrimination is real, and intersectional
  • If you google anything to do with fat, it’s not safe to go alone

Fatphobia is real, pervasive, and structural, and can be found everywhere if one is attuned to look. Despite the current climate, I am very impressed with my students’ willingness to look and ability to find.