Washington State discontinues 'plus-size swimwear' course

Toni Airaksinen
Columnist at PJ Media

  • Washington State University is no longer offering a course called "Fat Fashion Pedagogy" that aimed to explore "weight based oppression as a social justice issue."
  • A significant portion of the coursework involved creating "plus-size swimwear" to help students work on "challenging and reducing their biases toward fat people."
  • Washington State University has quietly discontinued a “fat fashion” class that aimed to fight “fat stigma, weight bias, and thin privilege” following a Campus Reform report. 

    The school’s “Fat Studies” class, taught by Debbie Christel, aimed to explore “weight based oppression as a social justice issue with other systems of oppression based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and ability,” according to the course description.

    Prof says "all academics should consider interdisciplinary pedagogy and integrate information about size discrimination and weight bias into their curriculum."   

    [RELATED: ‘Fat studies’ course deems ‘weightism’ a ‘social justice issue’]

    Though the course was primarily offered through the Women’s Studies Department, it could also be taken for credit by students in the school’s Design and Textiles Program since a significant portion of the coursework was oriented around creating “plus-size swimsuits.” 

    Christel led the students in creating plus-size swimsuits as part of the “fat fashion pedagogy” that she was trying to pioneer, later publishing an article on her experiences with the class in the peer-reviewed academic journal Fat Studies. 

    Fat fashion pedagogy, Christel wrote, is a teaching method that uses “critical feminist and narrative pedagogies” to fight fat-stigma by “promoting activism to erode the thin-centric orientation” among her students.

    “The outcomes indicate that, through [fat fashion pedagogy], students were successful in challenging and reducing their biases towards fat people and, in the process, produced plus-size swimwear for their fat female clientele,” Christel wrote, as Campus Reform reported last November.

    “In sum, all academics should consider interdisciplinary pedagogy and integrate information about size discrimination and weight bias into their curriculum,” she added. 

    [RELATED: Colleges dropping ‘fat studies’ courses in 2018]

    However, sometime after Campus Reform published its story, Washington State University pulled most references to the class from its website, and the class no longer appears in the school’s course directory

    A school official has since confirmed with Campus Reform that the class has been discontinued. 

    With the cancellation of “Fat Studies,” WSU joins schools like Tufts University, Willamette College, Portland State University, and the University of Maryland-College Park, all of which have discontinued their Fat Studies classes. 

    Christel did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen





    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Columnist at PJ Media
    Toni Airaksinen is Columnist at PJ Media and a Consultant at Youth Radio. She was previously a New Jersey Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform with a focus on Title IX, the OCR, and the First Amendment. During college, she also was a columnist for Quillette and The Columbia Spectator. Her exclusives have been featured on FOX News and The Drudge Report. She graduated from Barnard College in 2018.
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