A sociology professor at the University of Alabama has called for “weight-based microaggressions” to be added to the school’s diversity curriculum.
The professor, Andrea Hunt, surveyed 13 overweight college administrators and found that many of them reported having experienced “fat shaming” on campus, according to an article in Campus Reform. Hunt co-wrote an academic article on the issue titled, “Fat pedagogy and microaggressions: Experiences of professionals working in higher education settings.”
Tammy Rhodes, the program coordinator and administrative assistant in the University Success Center at the University of North Alabama, co-wrote the article with Hunt.
The article’s abstract cites an observation by an English professor at California University of Pennsylvania, Christina Fisanick — that “fat professors feel compelled to overperform” — and argues that it’s applicable to all areas of higher education, even beyond the classroom.”
“Directors, coordinators, and administrative assistants in academic departments and units also experience this strain in which overworking and taking on too many responsibilities can somehow overcompensate for the societal belief that someone larger is less credible or knowledgible [sic] than someone in a thinner body size,” the abstract states.
“The research concludes by highlighting how body weight should be integrated into diversity training and programming,” it continues.
According to Campus Reform, the text of the article also details some examples of microaggressions that the “fat” people she interviewed told her they’d experienced. For example, a woman named Anita told Rhodes that “business-casual [attire] requirements” were a form of an anti-fat microaggression. One college administrator, Desiree, said she had experienced outright “verbal weightshaming:”
“Because I am a chubby black woman who happens to be very curvy, folks think that it is acceptable to sing songs about big butts or make comments about having some ‘junk in the trunk,’” she said.
Overweight people often face difficulties because of their body size, and I think it’s absolutely awful that that’s the case.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that that kind of behavior absolutely is unacceptable, and that Desiree should not have to put up with it. I do understand that overweight people often face difficulties because of their body size, and I think it’s absolutely awful that that’s the case. Here’s the thing, though: The list of reasons for why people face difficulties is literally endless — are we going to add every single one of them to schools’ diversity programs?
Some people face social problems because they’re overweight, other people face them because they’re too thin. Sometimes, people are bullied just because they have, like, a mole somewhere. Are we going to add “mole awareness and sensitivity training” to college diversity programs, too? What about “big-nose awareness and sensitivity”? “Early onset baldness sensitivity”? “Short man/tall woman sensitivity”? Where does it end?
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.