In our constant crusade to seek out isms and crush them wherever we may find them, is the next ism on the horizon fattism?
For most scholars of fat, though, it is not an objective pursuit. Proponents of fat studies see it as the sister subject — and it is most often women promoting the study, many of whom are lesbian activists — to women’s studies, queer studies, disability studies and ethnic studies. In many of its permutations, then, it is the study of a people its supporters believe are victims of prejudice, stereotypes and oppression by mainstream society.
“It’s about a dominant culture’s ideals of what a real person should be,” said Stefanie Snider, 29, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, whose dissertation will be on the intersection of queer and fat identities in the United States in the 20th century. “And whether that has to do with skin color or heritage or sexual orientation or ability, it ends up being similar in a lot of ways.”
And the first “Fat Studies Reader,” an anthology of scholarly research on fat, is being shopped to university presses. It covers a range of topics, from the intersection of fat, gender, race, age, disability and class to fat heroines in chick lit, the role of fat burlesque dancers and the use of fat suits in film. Chapter titles include “Access to the Sky: Airplane Seat and Fat Bodies as Contested Spaces”: “Jiggle in My Walk: The Iconic Power of the Big Butt in American Pop Culture,” and “The Roseanne Benedict Arnolds: How Fat Women are Betrayed by their Celebrity Icons.”
Sounds pretty interesting.