‘Hella Problematic’: Students and experts look into fatphobia at SU


A friend of his recently lost a lot of weight, and while he had previously struggled with acting, he received four reminders after losing weight.

“It’s part of the business,” he said. “If you want to play the ingenue, the attractive guy, there’s a certain social norm you have to fit into.”

Stunts in the industry also generally need to be weighted close enough to the person playing the lead role, as they need to be able to fit into their costumes, Poulin said. And choreographers often expect students to be fit enough to jump certain heights and perform different dance moves, he said.

Outside of the classroom, fatphobia also tends to show up in social settings, especially in schools with strong party cultures, like SU.

Poulin often does not notice fatphobia because he has a thin body. Although on Halloween he dressed up in a Luigi costume which made him look taller than his usual size and said no one would talk to him. But the following night, while he was wearing an outfit that exposed his body, many more people approached him.

“(Luigi’s costume) made me look super deformed and taller than me, and nobody wanted to talk to me,” he said. “The body is a big factor in whether someone is going to talk to you or not.”

The unnamed freshman said that once when she was out with friends, none of them had to pay the cover charge, but because she had a bigger body, she did it.

“Girls get in for free, but only if they’re skinny and stereotypically pretty,” she said.

On another occasion, the freshman went to a party hoping for a good night’s sleep. But when a man walked up to her and said, “What are you doing here, fat ass?” it ruined his evening.

Sarah Bolden, a doctoral student at the School of Information Studies who studies digital fat activism, said party culture often perpetuates peer pressure, which can cause people with larger bodies to change their behavior and fashion. of life.

“Maybe you want to wear more revealing clothes, but if you feel like you’re fat, or you’re fat, there can be a lot of shame in that,” she said. “You end up changing your behavior in a world that you don’t think is designed to welcome you or where you don’t necessarily feel welcome.”

Bolden added that if someone feels like they’re taking up too much space physically, they can feel unwelcome in the room.

Duggirala noticed friends skipping meals to get drunk faster or force themselves to vomit, or “pull the trig,” to keep drinking, they said.

“That’s literally the rudest thing I’ve ever heard,” Duggiirala said. “There is such a high frequency of eating disorders (behaviours) on college campuses.”

Duggirala also stated that because their partner is of average height and considered traditionally attractive, people will often approach their partner and try to flirt, despite Duggirala’s presence.

“The assumption is that I am not a threat,” they said. “I am also something that is and should be disposable.”

Ragen Chastain, a lecturer, writer and trained researcher on fat activism, said college students tend to associate with people who fit traditional beauty standards. Society often glorifies thin, white, cisgender, heterosexual, and able-bodied people, and those who don’t live up to these standards can often feel excluded and unwanted.

In some cases, fat people will choose not to be social and isolate themselves due to weight stigma, Chastain said.

“The problem isn’t the fat person’s choice to try to protect themselves,” she said. “It’s that the weight stigma exists in the first place. But it can really create a situation where fat people don’t feel welcome.

Lalonde said she often felt like an outsider in most social settings given her age and weight.

“They’re like, we don’t want to hang around with this, like old grandma,” she said. “And I don’t know if it was because of my height, or if it was because I’m an older student.”

Students often hear that they’re at the age when their bodies are supposed to be in better shape, which can target larger bodies and make college campuses “breeding ground” for the rhetoric that slim figures are ultimately better, Duggiirala said.

“No matter how smart, talented, or kind you are, you’ve committed the kind of social sin of not having a slim body,” they said.

Danae Faulk, a doctoral student in the Department of Religion who studies obesity and religion, said laziness and obesity are almost always associated, especially in women. She works in an office on the fifth floor of the language room and chooses to take the elevator, which often leads her male colleagues to criticize her.

“There is an ableist rhetoric,” she says. “There are obviously implicit thoughts that people have that I need to get in shape or lose weight.”

Faulk also said fatphobic rhetoric around obesity and COVID-19 complications has persisted throughout the pandemic, especially since those with a body mass index of 30 or more, including Faulk , qualified for the vaccine earlier than the general population.

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