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Thursday, December 5 • 10:30am - 12:30pm
BREAKOUT SESSION FIVE: Fat Studies

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Chair: Aimee B. Simpson

Ash Gillon: Body Sovereignty and the intersecting isms: Fat Indigenous Bodies

Abstract: Racism, sexism and fatism are intersecting systems of colonial oppression that restrict, re-present and re-structure access to wellness for Indigenous women. These systems can perpetuate colonial definitions of Indigenous women and determine ways that bodies are (over)/(under)surveilled, policed and assigned (un)well and (un)(re)liable. Issues that centre around power such as surveillance, deservedness, consent, and classifications of dis-eased bodies, all influence Indigenous women’s lives and can limit access to bodily opportunities and resources. Body sovereignty centres around having access to opportunities to feel safe from bodily harm and abilities to make autonomous decisions. This Kaupapa Māori research seeks to explore ways in which fat Māori women experience and enact body sovereignty (as resistance) within these colonial systems of oppression: racism; sexism; and fatism. This presentation discusses these isms and explores these re-presentations of bodies that restrict access.


Andrew Dickson: Biomasochism: On the ethics of desire in weight cycling

Of course I want to lose weight. It is Kate Moss who is credited with the infamous phrase “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, though we can be certain that Moss was not the first to contemplate such a philosophy. It is not surprising that this sentiment finds itself simultaneously a site of vitriol and a moment of purity, both associated with the eating disorder craze of late modernity. Really by craze I mean crazy, the crazy of late modernity. Because in this particularly crazy we find our society, and this is found all over the world, pursuing both an eradication of ‘obesity’ and an eradication of disordered eating, eating that in theory ‘solves’ obesity. Paradox. It is within this paradox that we can discover the accurate way to read Kate Moss’s words – it simply requires replacing the middle of the sentence ‘as good’ with ‘precisely the same’: “Nothing tastes, precisely the same, as skinny feels”. Consider this an equation: What exactly does ‘nothing’ taste like? Well, it tastes precisely the same as skinny feels. We can all imagine what skinny feels like, after all capitalism finds a million ways to sell it as a solution to our fatty-ness, it often involves consuming some kind of hyper-sugared beverage, in a bikini. But this is not what skinny (f)actually feels like, it is just a fantasy of your standard neurotic mind – skinny, in Moss’s sense, feels like consuming nothing, which just happens to be the Lacanian formula for anorexia (Lacan, 1958; di Meana, 2002; Recalcati, 2011; Mura, 2015). In this paper I shall explicate the portly link between a Lacanian understanding of primary versus secondary anorexia, desire, and the biomasochistic ‘everyday’ of your average weight loss consumer.


George Parker: Mum’s the word: Addressing the gendering of obesity panic

Recent developments in the medical science of obesity have centered on the risks and harms of fatness before, during, and after pregnancy. Fatness amongst reproductive age women has been associated with almost all pregnancy and birth complications. Further, scientific developments in epigenetics have traced the origins of fatness to “life in the womb”, and even to “life before the womb” with the fat pregnant body described as wiring offspring for future obesity and poor health (see for example Gluckman & Hansen; Heerwagen; Heslehurst; Stothard). This has placed fat pregnant people at the epicentre of contemporary anxieties about the population health problems (and costs) of the so-called “obesity epidemic” leading to unprecedented opportunities for the blame, interrogation and control of pregnant people and new mothers. This paper will explore the importance of critical health sociological perspectives for identifying and responding to the gendering of obesity panic. I will explore how sociological perspectives have helped to highlight the discursive and material effects on women’s lives and demand a much more complex and socially just view of the relationship between fatness, reproductive health, and mothering.


Cat Pause: Fattening up sociology

In the first session of the Fat Studies stream, the field of Fat Studies will be introduced. A brief history and overview of the discipline will be presented, before considering the role that social sciences, and especially sociology, have to gain and offer from this new critical framework. Ways to fatten sociology will b explored, with the aim of shifting the focus of fatness from individuals and a biomedical lens, to the role of structures in the social construction of fatness and the lived experience of fat people.


Aimee B. Simpson: Sociology for everybody? Thinking critically about the big, fat blind spot


The issue of fatness, as a disease, epidemic and public health crisis is a popular area of research and discussion for sociologists. As a social problem, ‘obesity’ is touched on in publications ranging from media analyses, social policy, social and spatial environments, food systems and poverty, as well as children and the family to name a few. As sociologists, we are trained to examine social phenomena critically, yet this cynical gaze can waver when conversations turn to the fat body. Here, we critique around the edges – challenging the causes, measurement, representation and treatment of ‘obesity’, while leaving its designation as a disease and health risk unquestioned. Drawing on existing literature, this presentation looks at the way that fatness is discussed, and obesity discourses are reproduced in social science publications. It will engage with some of the more prevalent beliefs about ‘obesity’ and in doing so consider how we as sociologists can think more critically about the way that we engage with the fat body in our work.


Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.

Presenters
avatar for Aimee B. Simpson

Aimee B. Simpson

PhD Candidate, University of Auckland
Sociology PhD student based at the University of Auckland. Interested in sociology of medicine, the body and issues relating to health. Currently working on an analysis of obesity discourses and their effects on understandings of fatness, health and identity using a fat studies l... Read More →
avatar for Ash Gillon

Ash Gillon

PhD Candidate and Researcher, Te Wānanga o Waipapa, University of Auckland
Ko Pūtauaki te maungaKo Rangitaiki te awaKo Mataatua te wakaKo Tu Teao te maraeKo Ngā Maihi te hapūKo Ngāti Awa te iwiKo Wairaka te tipuna.Ko Ashlea Gillon tōku ingoa.I'm a Kaupapa Māori trans-disciplinary researcher and a doctoral candidate at The University of Auckland. I'm... Read More →
avatar for Cat Pause

Cat Pause

Senior Lecturer, Massey University
Cat Pausé, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer in Human Development at Massey University. She is the lead editor of Queering Fat Embodiment (2014, Ashgate), and coordinated two international conferences - Fat Studies: Reflective Intersections (2012) and Fat Studies: Identity, Agency, Embodiment... Read More →
GP

George Parker

Doctoral Candidate, University of Auckland