'Two Fat Professors' are afraid of COVID-19 causing 'fatphobia'
- A blog post on a website owned by a pair of professors who proudly call themselves "fat," laments that too many people are advising others on how to stay healthy during social distancing.
- The post argues that speaking about health is "traumatizing" for some who are impacted negatively by "diet culture."
Two University of Wisconsin-La Crosse professors who call themselves the “Two Fat Professors” are concerned that coronavirus is causing “fatphobia.”
Darci Thoune, author of “Am I Fat” in the International Fat Studies Handbook, recently published a blog post on the website twofatprofessors.com. The piece titled “Diet Culture at the End of the World” outlines Thoune’s opinion regarding “weight gain during the Covid-19 crisis.”
Thoune’s colleague Laurie Stoll who earned her doctorate in sociology with a concentration in women’s and gender studies, is the second one of the “Two Fat Professors.” She published the most viewed blog post on the site which is titled, “I See You, Fat Grrl: Fat Pride and Fat Visibility.”
Thoune wrote her piece, “Diet Culture at the End of the World,” in response to the many “number of posts that have popped up on [her] social media sites addressing fears about weight gain.” According to the professor, these posts “shame viewers for: not going to the gym, eating ‘too much,’ for getting fat, and for not starving ourselves at the end of the world” and are representative of a problematic “diet culture.”
The blog post repeatedly refers to those who are cognizant of their weight, as part of “diet culture.” Thoune criticizes those who speak out against weight gain and characterize it as “dangerous," saying they feed “into a system of fatphobia that oppresses and abuses so many.”
“I think the author is portraying something that isn’t an issue,” Brandon Micech, a sophomore at UW-La Crosse and Campus Reform campus correspondent, told Campus Reform.
“I also think it’s unprofessional where [the author] uses derogatory terms,” he continued.
Thoune’s post cites a 2008 study conducted by the University of North Carolina and SELF Magazine which found that about three in four middle-aged women have an eating disorder.
“I’m going to be blunt, we are living in traumatizing times. Your trauma is real. You do not need to suck it up. We need to seek solace and comfort where we can, and for some folx that solace and comfort will be in food. AND, THIS IS OKAY,” writes Thoune.
The professor argues that these “traumatizing times” are enhanced when individuals are “traumatized” by advice about “how to avoid weight gain during a global public health disaster.”
Fitness coach and former college cross country athlete Rajeem Garnett told Campus Reform that conversations around healthy eating habits during this time are actually quite necessary.
“When we have quite [sic] time for ourselves, for someone with an eating disorder on top of depression, often have a hard time dealing with the present moment. [They] soothe themselves with food or even in reverse, starving themselves,” said Garnett.
Offering some advice, Garnett told Campus Reform, “In times like this, people need to learn how to structure their days while at home. Set meal times instead of just eating when you feel like it. Give yourself jobs to keep yourself out of the bed. In the bed is where we do a lot of our self reflecting,” which could do more harm to those struggling with an eating disorder," Garnett said.
Thoune’s post points to a quote found in an article in Allure, a beauty magazine, that reads, “The most obvious problem with jokes about the ‘quarantine 15’ or ‘the COVID 19’ is that gaining weight is framed as an inherently bad thing--an idea that’s steeped in fatphobia.”
“Obesity leads to a majority of our health problems here in the States. We shouldn’t be praising or shaming obesity but we must educate. There definitely should not be a fat liberation,” Garnett told Campus Reform.
Thoune concludes the post by sharing a word of caution to those who wish to share their experiences and feelings with others. She advises readers to “maybe take one or two extra minutes to imagine how your "health talk" might contribute to someone else’s trauma and anxiety about food, health, and exercise.”
“I don’t think the blog is making an impact at all being poorly written, and [it] is expressing an issue that’s not relevant,” said Micech. “We have more things to worry about right now. Locking down and flattening the curve. This isn’t a time to say that fat people are oppressed. This is a time where we must come together and work together to beat this invisible enemy.”