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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 Three: Researching Fat Pedagogies


Part Three Researching Fat Pedagogies Eleven Fat Bullying of Girls in Elementary and Secondary Schools: Implications for Teacher Education Hannah McNinch Bullying in schools is linked to various forms of oppression: racism, homophobia, sexism, and clas- sism, to name a few (Walton, 2005) However, one form of bullying that remains barely addressed, and indeed is blatantly tolerated if not perpetuated by adults in power, is related to body size In an attempt to understand this phenomenon better and to raise awareness, I focused my Master of Education thesis research on fat bullying in elementary and secondary school contexts I used a qualitative approach and interviewed six female pre-service teachers (ie, students in the final year of their Bachelor of Education [BEd] program who spend significant time in schools on practicum and who will soon be certified teachers) Using pseudonyms to protect their identities, I analyzed their retrospective accounts of being bullied on the basis of being labeled fat and their future plans for addressing fat bullying as teachers Using critical discourse analysis, the results revealed systemic oppression of fat youth through bullying and exclusion that was often tolerated, and occasionally even encouraged, by staff in health and physical education (HPE) settings such as gymnasiums, outdoor fields, and the girls’ change room, as well as other environments including classrooms, the cafeteria, and recess space Further, I found that these participants, although once victims of fat bullying, reproduced fat-phobic discourse when discussing their experiences and future plans, thereby creating the possibility that...

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