Fat Studies: politics in disguise

Fat Studies (and other identity studies) are dumbing down higher education writes Abigail Alger on Campus Reform’s blog.

“Fat studies” is poised to break into the troika of race, gender, and class studies that are thriving at campuses across the country. Say goodbye to the last vestiges of a liberal education, of rigorous academic inquiry, and of the millennia of human achievement that academics now scorn.

Fat Studies “explores the social and political consequences of being overweight,” summarizes the San Diego Union-Tribune. Supporters see fat people as victims of a prejudiced society that insists only one body type is OK. They also deny that obesity causes health problems.

Fat Studies doesn’t pursue knowledge or lead to debate, Alger writes. Like other identity studies, it “begins with the end in mind.”

The conclusions have already been determined: fat people are oppressed and down-trodden, victims of an insert-terrible-adjective-here system and insert-another-terrible-adjective-here society.

In a closed system like this, there can be no debate or disagreement. . . . heretics are castigated as “speaking from privilege” or supporters of the inherently unjust system which perpetuates such grievous biases against fat people.

Fat Studies and its sisters are “political movements operating under the guise of intellectual departments,” Alger writes.  That’s it in a nutshell, I think.

And I hate to see people preach that obesity has no health consequences. I’m a diabetic, like my parents, sister and brother.  I have to control my weight to control my blood sugar. The alternative is blindness, amputation, kidney damage, heart disease, etc.

Update: The University of Wisconsin is considering adding a Hip-Hop Studies program, reports Ann Althouse, who notes that pop culture already “permeates the world of young Americans.”

Why pursue even more of it in college? Learn new things. Get what you can’t get just living in the world soaking up the things you naturally love and enjoy. What is the point of going to college?

One hip-hop advocate, who says she “struggled with physics” because it didn’t relate to her world, wants the physics department “to do more interdisciplinary research between science and culture” so students will be engaged. Engaged with what? Not physics presumably.

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  1. Just wanted to say that the most recent studies show that obesity does NOT cause diabetes but in actuality it’s the other way around. Here’s some research on that. Unfortunately the ADA and many uninformed endocrinologists (thank goodness mine is NOT one of those) keep telling people that being fat causes diabetes. That is simply NOT true.


  2. There’s also the major difference that being fat is something that an individual can control. Race, ethnicity, and gender aren’t.

  3. I think there’s just not enough substance there for an actual program. If a couple of professors want to specialize in that area, that’s perfectly reasonable. There is probably enough substance for a couple of papers a year – and I might not even mind reading one to learn about what the consequences are.

    But that’s a far cry from making the field into a major or minor; it’s irresponsible to even allow students to contemplate graduating with a degree in “fat studies.”

    Gender studies, while in practice often problematic, do not have to be so – it’s easy to imagine (if not to find) a rigorous program in gender studies that would, say, start with gender relations in ancient Greece, carefully examine the bible, look at medieval practices, etc. This is just not true of fat studies.

  4. Dick Eagleson says:

    These risible “Studies” departments exist for two reasons only:

    1) Provide what amounts to patronage employment for left-wing activists of various stripes.

    2) Recruit more left-wing activists.

  5. 3) Provide a refuge for students – often URMs – unable/unwilling to survive in a “real” field

    I remember when Latin American Studies was a real, interdisciplinary major,complete with language and literature requirements, along with history, geography, political science and economics of the Latin American (geographic) area of specialization. Of course, that was eons ago, before Studies departments became political indoctrination centers, free of all serious content and analysis.

  6. Nowhere does it say in the article that there’s even a single course devoted to Fat Studies, let alone an entire degree program. It’s just a professor focusing on the subject for her own research and writing, and integrating it into her Women’s Studies courses.

    I took a few “Studies” courses in college and didn’t find them any less rigorous or educational than other liberal arts classes. And I don’t see how a Women’s Studies or African-American Studies degree could be any more worthless than my B.A. in English.

  7. Crimson Wife: I agree with you when you say there is no controlling one’s gender, race or class, but feminists and queer studies types will probably argue that gender is a choice. From the website genderspectrumfamily.com, we read that “gender identity refers to our internalized, deeply felt sense of being male, female, both, or neither. It can be different from the biological sex we were assigned at birth.” They go on to say that gender is fluid. I don’t buy it, and you don’t buy it, but the gender studies crowd not only buy it, they preach it.

  8. Weird Al for department chair!


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