UMD Fat Studies course labels dieting 'special enemy' of diversity
Students at the University of Maryland will have the chance to “engage fatness” next term as part of a “Fat Studies” course offered by the school's American Studies department.
“Introduction to Fat Studies” will not engage “fatness” as a social or medical problem, according to a syllabus for the course posted online. Instead, the course will approach fatness as “an aspect of human diversity, experience, and identity.”
The syllabus goes on to say that the course “will function as an introduction to the recent (and growing) field known as Fat Studies.” The field of Fat Studies, the syllabus claims, is “a field that is not concerned with the eradication of fatness, but with offering a sustained critique of anti-fat sentiment, discrimination, and policy.”
One assignment for the course requires students to read three articles with the tag “Fatshion” from xoJane.com, a website “where women go to be their unabashed selves.”
Another assignment requires students to “explore the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance site.” The NAAFA, according to its website, aims to “provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment through public education, advocacy, and support.”
Other reading material for the course includes an article titled “My wedding was perfect – and I was fat as hell the whole time,” and the “Fat Liberation Manifesto,” which labels diet books, diet foods, and diet doctors as “special enemies.”
The syllabus also includes a quote from self-described “fat activist” Marilyn Wann, claiming that Fat Studies “requires skepticism about weight-related beliefs that are popular, powerful, and prejudicial.”
The instructor for the course is fourth-year Ph.D. student Cassy Griff, who claims to focus her work “on discourses of excess as they apply to fat and Latina/o bodies.”
The course will be offered during the university’s Winter Term from January 4-22. According to the university website, students will receive a full three credits for taking the course.
Griff did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.
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