Did you know that systemic oppression might be worse for an overweight’s person health rather than their own individual diet? Welp, according to one Oregon State University, combating “weightism” is a greater public good than combating obesity. Plus, the very idea of wanting to combat obesity may be seen as an non-overweight person stepping over the boundaries and oppressing the civil rights of their chubby neighbor. Yup, thin/skinny/physically fit privileges are real. For one college professor, combating that discriminatory power structure is a civil rights movement.
This three-credit “Fat Studies” course offers a forum to discuss how modern day society is oppressing the overweight. The syllabus for the course invites student to observe and examine, “body weight, shape, and size as an area of human difference subject to privilege and discrimination that intersects with other systems of oppression based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and ability.”
Campus Reform reported that this course on “Fat Studies” will return in the fall for another semester. The class promises it will increase focus on effective activism tactics to ““counter weightism perpetuated throughout various societal institutions.”
Professor Patti Lou-Watkins teaches the class about “Fat Studies.” She says that discrimination against overweight persons is less of an individual preference and more of an encompassing oppressive social structure.
“My course now frames body image disturbances more as a function of oppressive societal structures than of individual pathology,” wrote Lou-Watkins in a 2012 academic journal. The professor is an experienced writer and researched of body image issues. She says that the “war on obesity” has far-reaching psychological effects on people who have a desire to lose weight.
Lou-Watkins even cast a shade of blame of physicians for “fat-shaming” their patients by applying “weight bias” to treat overweight patients. She wrote, “Weight bias is particularly evident among healthcare professionals, compromising the well-being of their patients.”
Professor Lou-Watkins has grown to “embrace” feminist pedagogy to better inform her students about discriminatory social practices against overweight persons.
“I grew to embrace feminist pedagogy in terms of course content as well as classroom practices,” she wrote. “My course now frames body image disturbances more as a function of oppressive societal structures than of individual pathology.”
Oh yeah, Professor Lou-Watkins isn’t teaching the only “Fat Studies” program offered at Oregon State University. This college also offers a course entitled “Women, Weight, and Body Image,” which also dives into “weightism as a system of oppression that interacts with other forms of oppression.”