'Fat Studies' course deems 'weightism' a 'social justice issue'

Dan Jackson
Massachusetts Campus Correspondent

Total Shares

  • "Fat Studies" is returning to Oregon State University next spring, when students will be able to earn three credits to explore “forms of activism used to counter weightism perpetuated throughout various societal institutions.”
  • “My course now frames body image disturbances more as a function of oppressive societal structures than of individual pathology," Patti Lou-Watkins explains in a 2012 academic journal article.
  • Oregon State University will offer a spring course on “fat studies” in order to teach students how “weight-based oppression” is a “social justice issue.”

    According to a syllabus for the course obtained by Campus Reform, students will 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.”

    "The field of fat studies has undergone tremendous growth in recent years."   

    [RELATED: UW program explores dangers of masculinity]

    The course will be taught by Professor Patti Lou-Watkins, who has written extensively on “body image disorders, particularly as they relate to weight bias and physical activity” in academic journals and books.

    In a 2013 article in European Health Psychologist, for instance, Lou-Watkins argues that the growing “war on obesity” has actually caused more harm than good, saying many who attempt to lose weight suffer psychological consequences.

    “Indeed, as the ‘War on Obesity’ has escalated, so has weight-based bias and discrimination,” Lou-Watkins adds, noting that “weight bias is particularly evident among healthcare professionals, compromising the well-being of their patients.”

    [RELATED: ‘Fat-shaming’ by doctors is ‘physically harmful,’ prof says]

    Similarly, in an article called “Teaching about Eating Disorders from a Fat Studies Perspectives,” Lou-Watkins discusses the sorts of “pedagogy” she now applies in her courses.

    “I grew to embrace feminist pedagogy in terms of course content as well as classroom practices,” she explains. “My course now frames body image disturbances more as a function of oppressive societal structures than of individual pathology."

    In yet another article, Lou-Watkins celebrates the fact that “the field of fat studies has undergone tremendous growth in recent years, with colleges now offering courses in this area,” such as hers.

    [RELATED: ‘Fat Studies’ course labels dieting ‘special enemy’ of diversity]

    Indeed, students enrolled in her spring Fat Studies course will be presented with opportunities to explore “forms of activism used to counter weightism perpetuated throughout various societal institutions.”

    The three-credit course, however, is not the only of its kind at OSU, with another class called “Women, Weight, and Body Image” similarly examining “weightism as a system of oppression that interacts with other systems of oppression” such as “sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and ageism.”

    Lou-Watkins has offered the Fat Studies course in previous semesters, as well, according to The Daily Caller.

    Campus Reform reached out to Lou-Watkins for additional comment on her course, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MrDanJackson



    Dan Jackson

    Dan Jackson

    Massachusetts Campus Correspondent

    Dan Jackson is a Massachusetts Campus Correspondent, and reports liberal bias and abuse on college campuses for Campus Reform. He is a junior at Becker College and currently serves as chapter president of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign Manager for Central MA.

    More By Dan Jackson

    Latest 20 Articles