Three years ago, in August 2018, Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists gained international recognition when they missed school for three weeks to protest in front of the Swedish parliament, demanding a noticeable increase in political action to prevent climate change. While U.S. climate activism and its countermovement started to gain traction in the 1990s, the more recent protests in Sweden have inspired many people across the globe to follow suit, forming the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement. However, a rhetoric of anti-fatness and ableism threatens to undermine the movement’s attempt to engage a diverse group of people in its cause. With this blog post, I want to challenge the use of popular slogans like “BURN FAT, NOT OIL,”…

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  “Can you imagine my mom’s reaction?” [Abby asks]. “Eat Healthy with Norah!’s Norah suspected of having a fat kid!” —Amy Spalding, The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles (91) This quote from the well-received young adult novel The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding vividly captures the essence of the novel: The main character’s (Abby Ives’s) striking line pictures the tensions between her mother and herself that are based in their different approaches to how to live a good life—and the good life is immediately connected to a healthy and slim body. While Abby stridently points out that her fat body visibly contradicts her mother’s lifestyle, the name of her mother’s…

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John Egerton writes in Southern Food: On the Road, at Home, and in History that “the [U.S.] South, for better or worse, has all but lost its identity as a separate place.” However, Egerton quickly turns to food as one of the last distinct markers of Southern identity: “But its food survives — diminished, perhaps, in availability and quantity, but intact in its essence and authenticity — and at its best, it may be as good as it ever was” (3). For many folks who identify as Southern, cuisine is all that remains that makes Southern culture unique after cutting out all the problematic elements of an economy and culture built on enslaved labor, a history of racial violence and poverty, and other regressive…

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The “personal is the political,” a slogan of second-wave feminism, was also embraced by fat feminists in the 1960s and 70s. A founding member of the Fat Underground, a fat feminist liberation group, Vivian Mayer explained that they taught women to “relate ordinary ‘personal’ problems . . . to political injustices. The goal is to teach people how to support and encourage one another, and how to work together to change oppressive social relations” (xi).  In recent stories circulating around Boris Johnson’s (fat) body and his experience of COVID-19, the personal is political in a very different and problematic way. At the time of this writing, the United Kingdom has over 40,000 confirmed deaths related to the disease. The government’s…

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A recent study about body image and eating behaviors of almost 900 young adults in the U.S. conducted by the Center for Body Image Research and Policy at the University of Missouri concluded that “40% of women and 46% of men agreed that it would be worse to gain 25 pounds during social distancing than to become infected with COVID-19.” From this follows that weight gain through less movement and more emotional eating due to stay-at-home regulations is currently seen as more life-threatening than the Coronavirus by a large portion of individuals because of the ways body size determines social survival and cultural acceptance. Diet Culture in 2020: COVID-19 and Instagram Trends In the early months of 2020, social media…

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