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The Fat Pedagogy Reader

Challenging Weight-Based Oppression Through Critical Education


Edited By Erin Cameron and Constance Russell

Over the past decade, concerns about a global «obesity epidemic» have flourished. Public health messages around physical activity, fitness, and nutrition permeate society despite significant evidence disputing the «facts» we have come to believe about «obesity». We live in a culture that privileges thinness and enables weight-based oppression, often expressed as fat phobia and fat bullying. New interdisciplinary fields that problematize «obesity» have emerged, including critical obesity studies, critical weight studies, and fat studies. There also is a small but growing literature examining weight-based oppression in educational settings in what has come to be called «fat pedagogy». The very first book of its kind, The Fat Pedagogy Reader brings together an international, interdisciplinary roster of respected authors who share heartfelt stories of oppression, privilege, resistance, and action; fascinating descriptions of empirical research; confessional tales of pedagogical (mis)adventures; and diverse accounts of educational interventions that show promise. Taken together, the authors illuminate both possibilities and pitfalls for fat pedagogy that will be of interest to scholars, educators, and social justice activists. Concluding with a fat pedagogy manifesto, the book lays a solid foundation for this important and exciting new field. This book could be adopted in courses in fat studies, critical weight studies, bodies and embodiment, fat pedagogy, feminist pedagogy, gender and education, critical pedagogy, social justice education, and diversity in education.


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Part Two: Practicing Fat Pedagogies


Part Two Practicing Fat Pedagogies Five Promise to Try: Combating Fat Oppression Through Pedagogy in Tertiary Education Cat Pausé There is no such thing as a neutral educational process Education either functions as an instru- ment that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring conformity to it, or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the trans- formation of their world (Freire, 2003, p 34, emphasis in original) Education can liberate and oppress, emancipate and domesticate (Freire, 2003) This chapter ex- plores ways that those who teach tertiary education reinforce and resist fat oppression We live in a world where slimness is privileged (LeBesco, 2003; Wann, 1998) and slim bodies are read as good bodies: disciplined, active, attractive, and successful (Jutel, 2005) In contrast, fat bodies are read as bad bodies: undisciplined, lazy, disgusting, and undesirable (Murray, 2008) The anti-fat attitudes that result from these beliefs influence the lives of individuals of all sizes in employment settings, health care settings, and educational settings They can be found in the interactions between class- room participants (teacher—student, student—teacher, student—student) and in the treatment of bodies within the subject material, given normative messages about bodies and the subsequent reinforcement of anti-fat attitudes are common (Smith, 2012) Educators committed to social justice must make room for body size to have a...

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