Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Widening Field Of "Fat Studies"

I meant to link to this the other day, but was distracted by all the SWAT news. Maybe a day late, but here goes, as the New York times reports on the growth of fat studies programs. (And for the curious minded who are too lazy to link, this is fat studies in the same sense that we have black studies and Asian studies and women's studies programs in our universities.)

I'm intrigued, although I don't think I have a fully formed opinion quite yet. On one hand I am most definitely opposed to the cult of victimhood, but on the other, it's quite possible to study various social groups without resorting to discussions of victimhood, or worse yet, agitating for unneeded changes in the law. Of course I'm not sure fat people are a group in the same way other groups are ... yet at the same time, there are plenty of individuals in these other groups who are uncomfortable with the socially divisive notions of grouping in the first place. Again, I'm not sure I have any strong feelings one way or the other, beyond my points above.

Perhaps most interesting are the comparisons to the gay community and the gay rights movement. Not so much because of the political tactics used, but because of the not-so-fine line between personal choice and genetics in the construction of self and group identities. Is being gay a lifestyle choice or something you're born into ... what about being fat? When it comes down to it, isn't the answer really a little from column A and a little from column B?


Anonymous Kerry said...

Being overweight can be solely due to genetics, or it can be solely due to lifestyle, or it could be due to both... being gay is sorta more complicated...

1:01 AM  

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