On fat people, fat stigma, and healthcare

 

I was excited to receive an invitation to speak at the Renal Society of Australasia conference this year. A member of the organizing committee was familiar with my work, and convinced the cmte that I should be an invited plenary speaker (meaning I spoke to the entire conference). I was given a thirty minute slot to speak about fat stigma and its role in healthcare settings.

This is a topic I know a great deal about, as a super fat woman, a fat activist, and a Fat Studies scholar. I have published scholarly pieces on the topic, written about it before on my blog, talked about it on my fat positive radio show, Friend of Marilyn. The challenge, then, was how to deliver a short talk on the topic that would be meaningful for those in the audience. I wanted it to be informative, persuasive; I wanted them to walk out with frameworks for thinking about fatness differently and with tools for bringing a fat ethic into their own practice.

I opened my session with the story of Ellen Maud Bennett, a Canadian woman who recently died. In her obituary, Ellen shared that her dying wish was for fat women to advocate for their own health, especially in healthcare settings.

I continued with a story from the The Evening Standard in the UK about a fat man whose tumor went undiagnosed for a decade because of antifat attitudes. When it was finally removed, it weighed 55lbs. And I shared that these are only two stories of thousands – that fat people around the world received poorer care than non-fat people because of fat stigma, discrimination, and bias. These stories, which once we only shared in whispers among fat people, or loudly by the rare activist, are now shared en masse in online spaces; Web 2.0 tools have provided a medium for fat people to share their individual stories with the larger collective. To see they are not alone; to support one another; to share strategies for next time.

It is the antifat attitudes and beliefs of doctors that are responsible for fat people receiving unethical care. Numerous studies find that doctors believe their fat patients to be gross, undisciplined, non-compliant. Doctors do not want to palpate a fat abdomen (if they even know how); they spend less time with their fat patients. Part of the responsibility falls to their lack of education in providing care for fat people. A growing literature is dedicated to documenting that healthcare providers do not know how to appropriately administer anesthesia to fat patients; how to locate veins and administer appropriate levels of drugs to fat patients; how to appropriately perform CPR on fat patients.

All of it creates a hostile environment for fat people. And so many fat people avoid it.

Jan Fraser died of cancer after her symptoms were ignored by doctors and her weight loss was celebrated by all, even her family. As shared by her sister, Lara, “the hospital’s gynecologic oncologist removed the largest endometrial tumor he said he’d ever seen, the size of a volleyball. It had peppered her pelvis with cancer, infiltrating her bladder and other organs.”

In the final part of my talk, I suggested there were three things that those in the audience could do to improve the care they provided to their fat patients. First, make sure your physical spaces are fat friendly. Are there chairs without arms? If gowns or BP cuffs or other materials are needed, do you have ones large enough for fat bodies? Second, recognise your own bias. I pointed them to the Harvard Implicit Attitudes Test, which is free online and has a range of bias tests, including for weight. Lastly, I urged them to treat people’s symptoms, not their body size. And I recommended that they check out NAAFA’s Guidelines for healthcare providers for more information; I also invited them to check out the writings of fat people online about their healthcare experiences.

I ended up speaking for half my time, and then it was opened to questions. There were a lot of them – people were willing to stand up and approach the mic and ask what was on their mind. Some were predictable, “But what about their health?” – yeah, what about it? How can promote the health and well-being of fat people if they receive shitty care and shitty attitudes? Others were insightful, asking questions about intersectional experiences of fat people. It was a nice reminder that fat people are not a monolith (and a point for me to acknowledge that the three examples I used were all of white fat people). Overall, the response from the audience was positive and I left the podium feeling that I made a real difference in this space.

When similar opportunities arise for me, I’ll take them. Because speaking in their spaces is important, and one of the ways we can enact change for the fat community. If only a handful of people in that room have changed the way they treat fat people, that’s a win. If only a handful more left thinking about fat people differently, and sharing that new perspective with others, that’s a win. If the ones who left pissed at me went and shared their anger and frustrations with others, who may then hear some of my main points during their rant, that’s a win.

I will keep speaking about fat people – for fat people – in the spaces I have access to. And whenever possible, I’ll pass that mic along to other fat people who do not have accessibility to those same spaces. We need more fat voices in the fray, not fewer.

On Super Fat Travel: Iceland

Me in front of Gullfoss waterfall

In October of 2017, I travelled to Iceland. Iceland is a Nordic island nation that feels like it is the top of the world. It has a population around 350k, and most of the people live in the capital city of Reykjavik. Seeing Iceland was one of the goals I had when I planned my European Sabbatical. I travelled to Iceland at the invitation of the Icelandic Association for Body Respect and Gyða Pétursdóttir at the University of Iceland.

University of Iceland
Giving my talk, What’s size got to do with it? Bodies, Fatness, and Fairness
Sólrún from the Icelandic Association for Body Respect

At the University of Iceland, I gave a session during their “Equality Days”. My session, called What’s size got to do with it? Bodies, Fatness, and Fairness, explored fat politics and the oppression experienced by fat people. It followed a session by a member of the Association for Body Respect, Sólrún Larusdóttir; she spoke about the association and work they were doing in Iceland. Both sessions were great, and the audience was very enthusiastic. Afterwards, we met up with many of them (including some other Americans!) and decided to grab drinks.

After the talk
Dinner at the Perlan with the Icelandic Association for Body Respect

I was honoured to join the Icelandic Association for Body Respect for a dinner while I was in Iceland. It was a lovely meal, and we discussed common issues in the fight for fat rights, including the tensions between the body positive movement and fat liberation. A few nights later, the Association held a cocktail party for me, where I experienced other Icelandic treats like eðlan/lizzard (cream cheese, salsa, and melted shredded cheese) and ALL of the liquorice. They are serious about their liquorice here!

Cocktails!
Icelandic treats
Eðlan/lizzard

One member, Tara, spent a great deal of time with me while I was in country.

My lovely friend, Tara

She was an excellent tour guide, driving me around the Golden Circle, and making sure I experienced proper Icelandic things like ice cream at Ísbuð Huppu (kinda like a Blizzard from Dairy Queen).

Driving the Golden Circle
Þingvellir National Park
Geysir Hot Spring Area
Gullfoss waterfall

She even took me to the hot pools near her family’s home; it was a smaller (and less touristy!) place than the Blue Lagoon. One thing that I knew to expect (thanks to Google!) was that you had to shower naked in a communal shower area before putting on your suit and going out to the pool. I was a bit nervous about that part; I had never showered naked in public beforehand. I found, though, that the casualness of the rest of the Icelanders, helped me relax quite quickly. By the time we exited the pool and had to do it again, I had no anxiety about my super fat body being nude and on display.

Ísbuð Huppu
Höfði House
Bæjarins Beztu
One with everything!

On my free days, I wandered around the town, exploring the sites. I enjoyed the large flea market, Kolaportið and had a hot dog at the famous Bæjarins Beztu. I found a lovely Icelandic nutcracker to add to my collection. One surprise for me was all the American things to be found in Iceland (including brands, stores – even a Taco Bell!), but I learned while I was there that the US had a base in Iceland during the Cold War. I also spent a day on the Hop On/Hop Off bus (I LOVE those).

The Icelandic donut at Krispy Kreme

My final night, I did a Northern Lights tour. I had been lucky to see them my very first night; about two hours after I checked into my AirBnB, my host Arthur sent me a text to let me know they were out. I peeked from the window, and they were fantastic. Having already been in bed, and just exhausted from the day of travel, I went back to bed and promised myself I’d look more closely (and try to get pictures) on another night. Of course, they did not come out again before I left!

The Northern Lights tour was okay; it was useful to have something to keep me up until my 4am bus ride back to the airport (the airport is about an hour away from the city). The bus made many stops to look for the lights, including a stop with a café for refreshments and restrooms. If you wanted, though, you could stay on the bus the entire time. Since it was pitch black, I spent a lot of time listening to podcasts and playing on my phone during the tour.

Ready for exploring!
Golden Circle

 

Getting there and getting around

I flew Icelandair and found the seat was an okay fit; I had no issues with getting checked in or during the boarding or flight. I did not use public transport while I was there, but I did find that most places were accessible (much more than Europe, to be sure). Most of the eateries I visited had appropriate seating, and room to move around the space. I did not feel that I was under a great deal of scrutiny while I was in Iceland, and the Association were very welcoming.

Icelandair

Accommodation

I stayed in an AirBnB run by Arthur and his wife. Arthur was a gem, picking me up from the bus station the night I arrived and offering to drop me in town on any day I’d like. The AirBnB itself is a nice studio apartment above the garage (so there were a few stairs to climb, but they were gentle stairs and I did okay, even with my luggage). It had a comfy bed, a sitting area, dining table, kitchenette, wardrobe, and bathroom. Very fat friendly on all counts. It was right down the road from Christ the King Catholic Cathedral of Iceland, and Stop #4 on the Hop On/Hop Off Bus, so I was able to hop right on the bus. It was not too much further to walk into town, but I hopped the city bus instead.

The things to see and do

The Perlan

I found most of the main attractions, such as Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring Area, Gullfoss waterfall, the Perlan museum, Hallgrímskirkja, etc, to be accessible for super fat people. Many of them require walking, if you want to see most of the attraction, but the walkways/ground are relatively even and would probably not cause any issues for mobility aids. Much of them, especially the National Park, can be enjoyed from within the car while driving. The Perlan Museum has a “walk through a glacier” exhibit, for which they provide large parkas to keep you warm while you walk through the ice. I was delighted to find that the largest parka they had did fit my super fat body.

Walking through a human made glacier at the Perlan

 

 

Overall, I would say that Iceland is a good place for fat people to visit, and if you do go, make sure to share your own experiences with the rest of the fat community!

 

On fat hate & the Avengers

Like many, I was excited to see Avengers: Endgame.I bought my tickets months ago and took satisfaction knowing I’d get to see it before most people as it opened here in NZ a day before the States (yay International Date Line!). I was thrilled that my local cinema put on a late night showing of Infinity War the night before, which I attended.

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While far from perfect, I liked Infinity War and this was the fourth or fifth time I’d seen it. And because I’d seen it before, I knew when to zone out to avoid the fat jokes about Pratt’s character, Quill. I remember, though, having the wind knocked out of me when I watched it the first time. It was completely unexpected, and it took me quite awhile to shake it off the first time I saw the film.

*spoiler alert for Endgame*

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In Endgame, the fat jokes aren’t for Quill, but Thor. When they go looking for Thor to bring him back into the fold (post finger snap), they find him drinking himself into a stupor, with lots of messy hair and a substantial beer gut. The intention is clear: Thor has “let himself go”. The obvious fat jokes (both non-verbal and not) are made, including a reference to The Dude (who Thor now closely resembles).

The idea that fat people are fat because they “let themselves go” is canon. We believe that fat people are fat because they made bad decisions, failed to exercise appropriate self-control, and were undisciplined with their bodies. Fat people are cautionary tales. We look at them and think, “I never want that to be me”; “I never want to look like that”.  We lament when someone previously non-fat becomes fat; we see it as a waste, a shame, a reason for sorrow and grieving.

The fat jokes about Quill in Infinity War didn’t stay with me the entire film. I’m not particularly fond of the character, or of the actor who plays him. And I (rightly) assumed that the jokes about his size (oh no! He’s one cheeseburger away from being a fatty!), while hurtful & gross in the moment, wouldn’t continue past the scene.

But with Thor, one of the original six, I knew – just KNEW – that his size would continue to draw feedback through the film, especially as others see him and his new body for the first time. So from that first moment (which was met with hearty laughs in my screening; Thor! The Thunder God! Fat! HAHAHA), I was holding my breath waiting for the rest of the hits. And sure enough, they kept coming through much of the film. It was an unnecessary distraction, and a hurtful one as well.

Did the writers fall into the lazy narrative of fatness as shorthand for depression or unhappiness? Did they assume that they key market for the film would enjoy laughing at Chris Helmsworth in a fatsuit? Will Thor 4 explore this further; maybe Thor goes to fat camp on a planet adjacent to Ragnarok?

(I will say that Thor’s new size didn’t impact on his ability to be a badass Thunder God at all in the battles, which I appreciated)

I get that most people don’t care about this. They don’t care about fat people at all, and couldn’t care less about whether we are harmed by fat hate in our TV and movies. They definitely don’t care if fat hating material makes these spaces unsafe for us, and they won’t apologize for laughing at the jokes as the filmmakers intended. But they will be mad with me for calling it out as not okay. I’ve already seen them on Twitter, imploring me to get the fuck over it and just enjoy the movie.

But I care about this. I care that an actor I admired agreed to wear a fatsuit and make fun of a vulnerable population for laughs. I care that this bit will make the Tentpole movie of 2019 (the culmination of 22 movies across 11 years!!!) difficult to watch and enjoy for a lot of fat people. I care that the fat hate in the film will reinforce the fears that oppress a lot of people everyday.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t see the movie. Or that you aren’t allowed to enjoy it. I am asking that you be aware of the fat hate that exists in the film; and encouraging you to reflect on whether you feel it was needed. I am asking that you consider what it means when the biggest movie of the year (of forever?), weaponsises fat hate for laughs.

And if you imagine yourself a fat ally – or interested in social justice – you’ll speak up about it when you have opportunities to talk about what you liked and didn’t like about the film. I hope you include the fatsuit & fat jokes in the latter.

I also hope that you’ll support size affirming, and especially fat positive, media. New shows like Shrill on Hulu and Dumplin’ on Netflix are refreshing alternatives to the usual anti-fat bullshit we consume.

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Support the creators making positive stories about fat characters. Support the creators allowing far characters to be more than just cautionary tales. Support the fat people in your life by making sure you’re seeing more than just fatsuits.

On the bright lights of Broadway

I was lucky to treat myself and a friend to see a travelling performance of the Broadway musical, “Aladdin”, in Auckland earlier this year. I was super excited to attend; while I recognise how problematic Disney films are, I love them all the same and Aladdin was my favourite movie as a teenager.

I loved the sets and costumes (never have I see so much bling on stage! One review claimed the show had 337 glittering costumes including over 500,000 Swarovski crystals); the “Friend Like Me” number was the most outlandish and fantastical thing I have ever seen. Ever. The old songs were great, the new songs okay, and the call-backs to other classic Disney films of that era were fantastic (including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Mulan).

I expected to be awed, and I was – especially during the flying carpet scene of “Whole New World”. It is truly magical. And as expected, I had to remind myself to keep my mouth shut during the show; the desire to sing along with the songs was strong.

What I did not expect, though, was the amount of fat shaming material in the show. Now, as a super fat woman who studies fat stigma, I’m aware that fat hate is all around me. In every movie I watch, television programme I view, and magazine I flip through, I’m prepared to be confronted by fat hatred. I even have a sense for it; I can almost feel it coming, like a Spidey-sense. I often hold my breath to see how bad it’s going to be. But I was not expecting as much as there was in Aladdin, and the first bit came in the opening number (“Arabian Nights”). During the opening, as the Genie extolls all the wonders about the land, he includes, “’Welcome to Agrabah – land of one percent body fat!’”

As the show moves forward, the fat shaming continues, both from the beloved Genie and all his many issues and shame around food, and from others about one of Aladdin’s friends, Babkak. Babkak is fat and food obsessed; his fatness and food obsession is frequent fodder for laughs from the audience. Aladdin is not the first musical theatre foray into fat shaming and fat jokes. And I’m not the first to lament the presence of fat hating material in any otherwise delightful trip to the theatre. Others have written about this, including a harrowing story from CeCe Olisa on her blog, and a reflective piece by Maggie Rogers in American Theatre. Maggie asks,

Fatness crosses every race, creed, and culture, and you want to tell me the only people that are worth seeing onstage are thin? Please. You can get on board with helicopters landing onstage, witches flying through the air, and puppets, but not a size 22 playing a lead?

I remember speaking with my friend Sofie Hagan (of Made of Human and Secret Dino Cult fame) about our mutual love of Hamilton. She shared that when she first heard the soundtrack, she assumed that the youngest Skylar sister, Peggy, was fat. As soon as she said it, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made the same connection. Peggy, with her largely muted role and introduction of a single heavily delivered line, “And Peggy”.

Like an afterthought. Which is the common place for fat people. Both Sofie and I were relieved, in a strange way, to find the suspicion wrong. Peggy isn’t fat (of course she isn’t; she plays the love interest in the second half!), and we were glad for that. But also, a bit bummed, because how great would be to have a fat character in the new hot musical.

Because if fat performers are not allowed to play the straight sized roles (which are ALL roles unless otherwise specified, of course), then how many fat character roles are available in their fat glory in musical canon. Mama Morton in Chicago, Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, um. I’m sure there are more. Right?

On my 2018 fat academic year in review

Many academics write end of year reviews. It is a chance to reflect on goals met, accomplishments, surprises, and failures. I’ve never written one before, but felt that I should start as I enter the middle phase of my academic career. I am no longer an early career academic, but I am nowhere near retirement, either. I have big plans for myself and the scholarship I intend to complete. I have big plans for my activism and the country I now call home.

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Giving a presentation on fat stigma at the 2018 BMI Seminar Series

Reflecting on where I have been in the past year can only help me on my journey. Plus, it has the added benefit of letting others peak into the basic stats of my life as well. It isn’t meant to be a humblebrag, but I am very proud of the work I accomplished last year.

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Preparing to go on The Project and talk about fat stigma

When I completed my sabbatical in Europe, one of the loudest questions I heard from graduate students and early career academics was, “I can make an academic career out of Fat Studies?” “Yeah”, I told them, “you can. And I am.” I understand where the confusion comes from. You cannot get a qualification in Fat Studies. There aren’t many Fat Studies conferences, and a single Fat Studies journal (it’s Q1, ya know!). Fat Studies scholars are spread across the world with little more than the Internet to hold us together. In addition to being a reflective exercise for me, I hope my review may show others that Fat Studies scholarship is thriving (I’ve stuck to scholarship in this review for that purpose).

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My keynote, Does my fat ass make my Instagram look fat? Bad fatties in (cyber)spaaaaaaaace, at Politics of Volume in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Journal articles

Pausé, C. J. & Glover, M. (2018). Exploring the threats to sociable scholarship: An autoethnographic viewing of participatory news making. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 6(2), 696-710.

Pausé, C. (2018). Hung up: Queering fat therapyWomen & Therapy, 1-14.

Pausé, C. J. & Grey, S. (2018). Throwing our weight around: Fat girls, protest, and civil unrest. M/C 21 (3).

Parker, G. C., & Pausé, C. J. (2018). “I’m just a woman having a baby”: Negotiating and resisting the problematisation of pregnancy fatnessFrontiers in Sociology3, 5.

Parker, G. & Pausé, C. J. (2018). Pregnant with possibility: Negotiating fat maternal subjectivity in the “war on obesity”. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight & Society, 7(2), 124-134.

Burford, J., Henderson, E. & Pausé, C. J. (2018). Enlarging conference learning: At the crossroads of Fat Studies and Conference Pedagogies. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight & Society, 7(1), 69-80.

Pausé, C. J. (2018). Borderline: The ethics of fat stigma in public health. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 4(4), 510-517.

 

Book chapters

Parker, G. & Pausé, C. J. (2018). “The elephant in the room”: Naming fatphobia in maternity care. In J. Verseghy & S. Abel (Eds.), Heavy burdens: Stories of motherhood and fatness (pp. 19-32). Bradford, ON: Demeter Press.

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Me with my copy of “Heavy Burdens”

Pausé, C. J. (2018). New Zealand. In S. M. Shaw, N. S. Barbour, P. D. Duncan, K. Freehling-Burton, & J. Nichols (Eds). Women’s lives around the world: A global encyclopaedia (Vol 3, pp. 214-226). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO

 

Book reviews

Pausé, C. J. (2018). Review of Fat talk nation: The human costs of America’s war on fat, Susan Greenhalgh. Sociology of Health and Illness, 40(1), 234-235.

 

Journal reviews

Journal of Social and Political Psychology

Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight & Society

Women & Therapy

 

Media Engagements

The Project. (2018, 11 October). Fat shaming. TV3.

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Me on The Project

The Panel. (2018, 11 October). Fat stigmatising. RNZ. Retrieved from https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/audio/2018666409/fat-stigmatising

Williams, L. (2018, 11 October). Researchers calling for an end of ‘fat’ taboo. NewstalkZB. Retrieved from https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/larry-williams-drive/audio/cat-pause-researchers-calling-for-end-of-fat-taboo/

Hobbes, M. (2019, 19 September). Everything you know about obesity is wrong. HuffPost. Retrieved from https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/

Checkpoint. (2018, 23 July). Outrage over new Netflix ‘fat-shaming’ series. RNZ. Retrieved from https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018654859/outrage-over-new-netflix-fat-shaming-series

Bridge, R. & Owen, L. (2018, 18 May). GPs struggle to talk with patients about obesity. RadioLIVE.

Carter-Kahn, S. (2018, 5 January). How to advocate for yourself at the doctor as a fat person. Yahoo Sports. Retrieved from https://sports.yahoo.com/advocate-doctor-fat-person-120023980.html

 

Podcasts

Harrison, C. (2018, 15 October). How to combat fat stigma with Cat Pausé. Food Psych [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://christyharrison.com/foodpsych/6/how-to-combat-fat-stigma-with-cat-pause. Produced by Food Psych.

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Hagen, S. (2018, 10 January). I’m THAT that fat. Made of Human [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://player.fm/series/made-of-human-with-sofie-hagen/73-dr-cat-paus-2-im-that-that-fat. Produced by Made of Human.

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In the studio, making fat positive radio

Pausé, C. J. (2011-). Friend of Marilyn. [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from iTunes. Produced weekly as a radio show on Manawatu People’s Radio 999AM, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

 

Conference keynote

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 5 January). Does my fat ass make my Instagram look fat? Bad fatties in (cyber)spaaaaaaaace. Invited keynote at Politics of Volume, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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Keynote

Conference papers

Pausé, C. J. & Grey, S. (2018, 6 December). Throwing our weight around: Fat girls, protest, and civil unrest. Paper presented at Sociological Association of Aotearoa, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.

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Me drinking from a mug that says, “Without fat girls, there would be no protests”

Proctor-Thompson, S., Pausé, C. J., & Grey, S. (2018, 23 September). The gendered impact of the neoliberal project in tertiary education. Workshop presented at Women’s Studies Association New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.

Parker, G., Pausé, C. J., & LeGrice, J. (2018, 22 February). Fatness, Race & Reproduction in the 21st Century. Paper presented at Thickening Fat, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

Conference symposium

Pausé, C. J. (2018, May 30). Losing the love of movement: Fat kids and physical education. In R. Tinning (Chair), Critical health education and the affect of physical education. Symposium conducted at the Critical Health Education Studies Conference, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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Presenting my paper, Losing the love of movement: Fat kids and physical education, at the Critical Health Education Studies Conference, Queenstown, New Zealand

Invited Seminars 

Pausé, C. J (2018, 12 April). Fat stigma, discrimination, and bias in health. 2018 BMI Seminar Series, Transforming Research into Practice and Innovation, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand.

 

Invited Lectures (Fat Studies)

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 11 May). Fat politics, nutrition, and you. 214.131 Introduction to Food and Nutrition [30]. Massey University, New Zealand.

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 21 March). Fattening up your feminism. 175.720 Advanced Psychology of Women [25]. Massey University, New Zealand.

 

Public seminars

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 22 June). Fat like me. Hosted by the Women of the Manawatu Country Club, Clubroom, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

 

 

On the year in fat 2018

Earlier this year, I did some reflecting on the year that was 2018 and what it meant for the fat community. 2018 had a lot of great fat contributions, and a fat soundtrack to boost (HELLO LIZZO!) We had the usual setbacks (*cough* looking at you Insatiable *cough*), and a viral piece that both gave and took away (“Everything you know about obesity is wrong”). There were lots of cool things that happened (on top of all the regular non cool shit we have to put up with), and I wanted to reflect on those and invite my readers to share with me what their favourite fat things of 2018 would have been!

#FatStudyGroup

My lovelies

#FatStudyGroup was started by Kivan Bay (@KivaBay) as a resource for individuals interested in building a Fat Studies community on Twitter. Regular contributors include @KivaBay, @_iAmRoyal, myself (you can find all my threads from here). I think this technically started in 2017, but it gained a lot of traction in 2018 and others started participating and contributing more to the hashtag. It’s been a great way for me, for example, to share what I’m reading in the Fat Studies literature. Plus, it’s an easy way for us to continue building our shared understanding of the discipline and the experiences of being fat.

Fat Studies MOOO

The Fat Studies MOOO is a newly launched massive online open offering hosted by me. The intention is to provide an accessible space for those interested to come together and learn and engage around a Fat Studies topic. The MOOO allows for global advancement of the Fat Studies discipline through an innovative methodology/technology to enhance scholars, researchers, and activists, working in this space. It also allows for increased public engagement with Fat Studies research and related societal issues for fat people. This will improve social welfare, and enhance the quality of life for fat people across the world. Each MOOO has a different guest scholar and topic, and up to ten people can participate in each event. In 2018, the MOOOs explored topics included weight and the law, fatness – race – and reproductive justice, and anti-racist fat politics. The 2019 MOOOs have explored disability, public health, and more – follow me (@FOMNZ, Friend of Marilyn on FB) to find out more.

 

Fat Positive Television

I’m almost 40, and I can count on one hand how many fat positive television movies/shows (or even fat positive episodes of other shows) I have ever seen on a single hand. I’m thrilled to say that number just about doubled in size like an excellent second stomach in 2018 with the introduction of Dietland and Dumplin. Both based on popular fat positive books, Dietland (on AMC) and Dumplin’ (on Netflix), give us unapologetic positive fat representation. Both have great stories – strong acting – and delightful soundtracks. If you haven’t watched them yet, treat yourself this weekend!

 

Fatshion

As a super fat person, t-shirts have long been a unicorn for me. While I would love to wear t-shirts that promote my favourite bands or show off my school spirit, they rarely (read: never) come in my size. But in 2018 that all started to change as Corissa (of Fat Girl Flow) introduced her Fat Girl Basics collection. The collection has your basic white and black t-shirts in a few styles. Plus, a few other cute fat positive shirts. I’ve gotten them in 6x and am optimistic that my t-shirt drought may be over!

 

Fatcasts

The number of fat positive podcasts continues to grow, which is so amazing! I’m afraid I cannot comment on the quality of all of the ones listed below; I immediately subscribe to any new fat podcast I discover, but I haven’t yet figured out how to make time to listen to everything!

Fat as Fuck is a podcast all about sex.

Fat Chicks on Top is a podcast about intersectional fat chicks.

Fatty Boom Boom is a podcast about all things fat in Africa and the diaspora. A favourite of FOM, this show is produced and hosted by FOM friend of the pod Whitney from South Africa, with frequent guest (and also FOM friend of the pod) Cynthia from Namibia.

Heavy Conversations is a podcast that covers many issues related to everyday living as a fat person.

Matter of Fat is a podcast about fatness with Midwest sensibilities.

Many other long running fat podcasts are still going strong, including my own, Friend of Marilyn. In fact, in 2018 FOM celebrated its 250th episode! The world tour (that started in 2016) is still going strong, with shows continuing their way across Europe in 2019.

 

SO – those of are some of my favourite fat moments of 2018 – what about you? And what are you hoping for fatness in 2019?

On Fatlicious Gift Giving 2018

Another year is ending; another holiday season is upon us! Every year, I try and keep track of all the cool fatlicious things that I see online so I can share and promote them with you at the end of the year. Sometimes, like with the Fatties Against Facism T-Shirt, the availability closes before I get around to putting out this Guide, but I can assure you that most of my favourite fat things of the year on still around for you to get your fat fingers on. This list doesn’t have any affiliate links; I do not get any kind of money or compensation from the items or companies on the list – it’s just fatlicious stuff you may want for yourself or someone you love. I also don’t promote stuff I cannot wear/use/etc for myself, so all of the clothes options will go up to at least 5x.

 

For the activist

“Fat is Enough” zine and pin pack from the Femme Folio

 

Thick Thigh Squad button from Archive Six

 

Fat Phobia Sticker from Siobhan Williams Art

 

Fatties Against Facism Flag from Fat Lib Ink

 

Loving Your Body Tote from Dietland

 

 

For those who love a little JOMO

Fat and Pretty TShirt from Miss Crime Scene

 

Fluff Goddess Sweatshirt from Fluff Goddess

 

Basics from Fat Girl Flow

 

Gorda, Nalgona, y Chingona T-Shirt from Nalgona Positive

 

 

For the stocking

Frosty Peach Glasses from Chubby Cartwheels

Babely Body Positive Pin from Taynee Tinsley

Adipose Issue: A Zine About Being Fat from Sparklebutch

SexFation Iemanjà Enamel Pin from Sexy Fation

Rainbow Sprinkle Ice Cream Sandwich Necklace from Plus Bklyn

Fattie Enamel Pin from Fat Mermaids

Polka Dot Pig Brooch from Fancy Lady Industries

 

For the coffee table

The Little Book of Big Babes from Rachelle Abellar

Still Breaking Normal by TaLynn Kel

 

For the home office

‘Glorify’ Fat Positive Card from Embroidery Is Vital

Adipositivity Project 2019 Calendar from Substantia Jones

Downward Dog Watercolour from Fat Feisty Femme

Tangelo from Dimmie

 

For the reader

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty

Landwhale by Jess Baker

The Body is not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

 

For the fatshionista

Willa Maxi Dress from SWAK

Long Tutu in Blush from Society+

Ombre Star Print Georgette Sash Tie Dress from eShakti

Pumpkin Marissa Pant from Premme

 

For your feet

Heavenly Soles High Leg Boots from SimplyBe

Sling Back Block Heel Shoe from Ashley Stewart

Marcelle Caged Heel Ankle Boot from Avenue

 

Previous fatlicious gift giving guides

Fatlicious Guide 2017

Fatlicious Guide 2016

Fatlicious Guide 2015

Fatlicious Guide 2014

Fatlicious Guide 2013

Fatlicious Guide 2012

Fatlicious Guide 2011