Academic Absurdity of the Week: Fat Tail Distribution of Nonsense

The idea of refraining from “fat shaming” is not entirely without sense, and obesity as a public health problem is likewise not trivial or unserious. What is unserious is what happens to obesity when postmodern academics get their hands on it. There is—wait for it—naturally an academic journal called Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society.

Now, if you thought ‘interdisciplinary” meant that the journal included a cross-section of medical specialties such as cardiologists, nutritionists, geneticists, and endocrinologists, you’d be quite wrong. Instead, you get things like this:

Sizeism is a health hazard

Joan Chrisler, Angela Barney, Connecticut College


Sizeism and stereotypes of fat people can have a negative impact on their physical health and well-being. Disrespectful treatment and medical fat shaming (in an attempt to motivate people to change their behavior) is stressful and can cause patients to delay health care seeking or avoid interacting with providers. The assumption that weight is responsible for, or related to, almost any presenting complaint has resulted in misdiagnosis. Recommending different treatments for patients with the same condition based on their weight (e.g., weight loss for fat patients; CAT scans, blood work, or physical therapy for other patients) is unethical and a form of malpractice. Intersectional identities can result in a greater cumulative burden for people who experience sizeism as well as other forms of oppression (e.g., sexism, ageism, racism, classism, transphobia), and the stress that such unfairness causes can damage people’s health. Better training for health care providers and empowerment of patients are recommended.

So “sizeism” is just like racism, because apparently obesity is a social construct. Ignore all those statistical correlations between weight and blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, etc.  Though I suppose this is all good news for me, since I identify these days as a “hefto-American.” Once I internalize that my weight is a social construct, I’m sure my blood pressure will drop and I can throw out my medication.