On That Tweet – Fat Discrimination in the Education Sector

Miller tweet

Dr. George Miller, an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of New Mexico (currently visiting NYU), shared this bit of fat hatred yesterday. One of his colleagues at NYU called out the fat hatred in a retweet, and the story has now gone viral. He since apologized, and has now set his Twitter feed to protected.

Questions have been raised about the influence that his fat hatred plays in his role as a member of the graduate admission committee for his program. As noted by many, it raises concerns about the unspoken rules that often guide selection processes.

Anti-fat attitudes are found across the lifespan, in most cultures around the world. In the Western world, fat hating and fat shame are commonplace. Fat individuals are considered to be ugly, sloppy, lazy, socially unattractive, sexually inactive, undisciplined, dishonest and less productive than non-fat individuals. Fat people face discrimination across all sectors: education, employment, healthcare, justice, etc. Fat people have been found more likely than non-fat people to be bullied at school, less likely than non-fat people to be accepted at prestigious Universities and less likely than non-fat people to be selected as friends by their peer groups. University students would rather be intimately involved with shoplifters, embezzlers and IV drug users than fat individuals. (For articles about anti-fat attitudes, see here and here and here.)

This is not about this one guy who tweeted this one hateful thing – it’s about our larger culture and how we are content to allow fat individuals to exist as second class citizens. Buy a second plane ticket, pay more for healthcare, only be represented in the media in a negative fashion – all of these are regular parts of life for fat people and very few seem to care.

I’m not interested in responding to Dr. Miller. While I appreciate those who want to call him out, and yes he deserves it, I’m more interested in addressing the social narratives in which individual comments like Dr. Miller’s are encouraged. I’m also interested in the structural aspects of fat oppression. I decided that what I wanted to do was to highlight all the amazing fat individuals who are in graduate school, or have completed graduate school – to provide a visual repository for anyone who doubts that fat individuals lack the abilities or qualities to succeed in academia. And to celebrate the amazing work being done by these rad fatties!

I present to you FuckyeahFatPhDs – check it out!

If you want to be included, send me an email with a photo and your details (name, degree, Uni): friendofmarilyn@aol.com

What others are saying:

The Fat Chick: Dear Dr. Terrible Your Bigotry is Showing…   and Prof With Poor Impulse Control Wishes He Hadn’t Tweeted About Will Power, Part The Second

Laura Beck at Jezebel’s got this to say: NYU Prof to Obese PhD Applicants: Thanks, But No Fatties Allowed

New York Magazine: NYU Professor Immediately Regrets Fat-Shaming Potential Students

New York Observer: NYU Won’t Fire Fat Shaming Professor

J. K. Trotter at The Atlantic: How Twitter Schooled an NYU Professor About Fat-Shaming

Barbara King at NPR: The Fat-Shaming Professor: A Twitter-Fueled Firestorm

DiversityInc: Professor: Obese People Can’t Get PhDs