Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 | In the introduction to her forthcoming book, San Diego State University Women’s Studies professor Esther Rothblum describes The Fat Studies Reader as “the first comprehensive anthology that maps the contours of the emerging field.”
The field brings together disciplines like law, history, popular culture, and health to question stigmas associated with weight, to frame weight prejudice as an important civil rights issue, and to “provide much-needed momentum for social justice for people of all sizes.”
In The Fat Studies Reader, Rothblum and co-editor Sondra Solovay have compiled the work of 53 authors whose multi-disciplinary research on fat studies examines and critiques prevailing assumptions around being fat in a country obsessed with the “obesity epidemic.”
We sat down with Rothblum to discuss the emerging academic field, its attention-grabbing name, and why she thinks a shift in our focus on fat is more important than ever.
I was struck by the name of your field. What is fat studies?
Fat studies is a field that looks at how we can prevent discrimination based on body size. People vary tremendously in height and weight, and it really recognizes that there’s a huge diversity of appearance but that we should not discriminate based on a particular weight, for example. It also asks the question of who stands to gain — no pun intended — by this enormous focus we have on weight and dieting, and who loses.