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

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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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