Professor Fights for the 'Freedom of Fat Bodies'

Ben Swan

Everyone knows justice is phat, but is it also the F-word?

According to a growing movement, it should be.

And one fighter for fat fairness teaches at Iowa State University.

As reported by the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), Dr. T.J. Stewart — assistant professor of Student Affairs and Higher Education — recently appeared on the Scholarship to Practice podcast.

Amid modern priorities, T.J.’s interests are absolutely at home:

[They] include college students with stigmatized identities, identity-based student activism, and critical qualitative methodologies.

The teacher touted reach: Can you wrap your arms around obesity?

“Once we think we’ve got our arms around all of the major equity and justice issues around race, gender, and class…who is still missing and why?”

“We know these students exist,” he explained, “but are not necessarily centered in our everyday equity and justice conversations or work.”

The academic expressed a huge concern:

“How are fat students experiencing fat phobia and sizeism?”

Did you know People of Portion are cut out of college?

According to the article, T.J.’s “extensively studied the issues of fatphobia and sizeism on campus, the signaling that excludes larger people from the promise of higher education.”

Per the professor, those with wider waistbands are victims of violence:

“[I]t can manifest as ideas and beliefs about fat people. Do these students have violent experiences based on how people treat them socially or academically? Do we think about that as a form of bias, as an identity?”

They’re also run off by an aggregate of undersized accommodations; as the saying goes, it’s the little things that count:

“Physical environments impact students — what type of furniture do we buy? … Furniture should be inclusive of body size. We would not expect an ‘average’ student to sit on some rickety chair that has a piece of iron digging into their side. That’s a safety issue.”

There’s reported resistance to robustness. But the instructor’s on the case.

As noted by The College Fix, T.J. helped pen the fat-forward piece “‘Feeling Good as Hell’: Black Women and the Nuances of Fat Resistance.”

The essay raises a glass to race-specific realizations. And if you’re an identifying accomplice, here’s your attaboy:

Grounded in Black women’s ways of knowing, we explore the philosophical bounds of fat activism and fat resistance and through citing examples of Black women engaged in resistance to body-oppressive structures, we highlight the ways fat people and their accomplices (nonfat and non-fat identifying people) contribute to the collective effort for fat justice. We illuminate potential pathways forward for recognizing a range of actions that contribute to the freedom of fat bodies.

Fatness is certainly trying to free itself.

Consider the past few years’ expansion:

University Celebrates ‘Plus Size Appreciation Day,’ Cancels Columbus and Pronoun Privilege

‘Cosmo’ Manhandles Myths With Its New Series of ‘This is Healthy’ Covers – Featuring Plus-Size Women

Viral Video Rips the Racist Roots of ‘Fatphobia’

Medical School Hosts Seminar on ‘Body Terrorism’ Against ‘Fat LGBTQ+ People’

Even so, resistance is real:

Charles Barkley Slams Cancel Culture, Recalls His Fatphobic Fight With San Antonio

Woman Is Dumped by Fiancé for Being ‘Too Fat.’ She Loses Weight and Becomes Miss Great Britain

As for the aforementioned “terrorism,” it seems to me wokeness is quickly creating its own language.

These days, there’s big talk of “bodies” as if people are merely pieces of meat.

 

And “phobia” — meant to indicate irrational fear — appears rarely accurately employed.

The same goes for “violence.”

Beyond that, words such as “populations” and “communities” — once important ideas — have had their substance lipoed.

In our enlightened era, if your second toe is longer than your big one, you’re an identifying member of the Larger Second Toe “Community” — a completely meaningless affiliation with other people you’ll never meet and who will never have your back…even though they have your toe.

Back to T.J, he just wants fat people to fit…in:

“There are a lot of fat-bodied students who experience places where they are not able to be comfortable, where they don’t fit in the classroom, in the residence hall. We know athletes might get preference in certain assigned spaces. How radical would it be if we thought about that for larger students?”

But don’t assume his interests aren’t expansive.

Dr. Stewart’s also attentive toward Critical Race Theory and that relegated resident of the “margins of the margins,” the on-campus sex worker:

“I…do work around college students engaged in sex work as their labor choice. … Sex work is not inherently exploitative or degrading. But sex workers, like all of us, are engaging in labor under capitalism, right? … I am of the belief that all students deserve support, inclusive of their labor choices.”

Still, he’s firmly for fatness.

From his official bio:

“I am currently collecting data for a study exploring the experience of fat students on campus using the construct of ‘body terrorism’ grounded in Black women’s ways of knowing.”

It’s a new world. And populations and communities with fat bodies in the margins are — like “good-as-hell”-feeling folks in an insufficiently-dimensioned desk — stuck.

Hopefully, liberation will soon see them livin’ large.

-ALEX

 

See more content from me:

‘Antiracist’ Infant? Childcare Chain Says Babies Should Learn ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’

University Likened Unwoke Halloween Costumes to Rape and Murder

Bill Maher Continues His Anti-Democrat Streak, Wipes the Floor With the Woke Over Words

Find all my RedState work here.

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