Women’s History Month Honored With ‘Fat Shame and Feminism’ Lecture

Byline: by Suji Han

Posted: March 28, 2012

Prof. of American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at Dickinson College, Dr. Amy Farrell, lectured on "Fat Shame and Feminism." She began her lecture by showing over 20 images of overweight women. The images conveyed a message that the women were silly, lazy and unattractive compared to thin women.

The Women’s Studies Program and the Hankey Center hosted Farrell as part of a series of events recognizing National Women’s History Month.

On Thurs, March 1, in Laird Hall’s Patterson Lounge, Farrell gave the lecture about the stigma of being overweight in American culture from a feminist perspective.

Judging women by physical appearance

Dir. of the Hankey Center for the Education and Advancement of Women, Amy Ensley, said, "I invited Amy Farrell because she has done important research on the history of the stigmatization of body types. Women in America are often judged on their physical appearance rather than their intellectual capabilities and I think it is interesting to see how that began."

Farrell began the lecture showing two newspaper advertisements from the 1920s, "To Stout People" and "To Ladies." The advertisements showed how society has labeled fat as taboo, especially for women.

'Fat shame' vs. obesity epidemic

Farrell hopes people recognize the way that the stigma works in our culture. People might question how they view themselves, representation in the media and concerns about the obesity epidemic.

After the lecture, about 20 attendees commented on the lecture’s theme. They shared their thoughts, experiences and questions for over an hour. Especially, people talked about the pressures of weight standards, societal influences and making right decisions towards fat shame.

"It is a controversial topic because of the ideology and fat shame. In our society, it’s a hot topic and the lecture is taking on writing about it and educating people about it. It is the impressive part of the lecture for me," Heather Humwood ‘14 says.

Farrell leaves a comment to students, "I would say that actually the materials that I show, especially in early feminism, show the ways that body shaming was often used to control women and do not let that happen."

As stated on the college’s news webpage, "Farrell also serves as the Curley Faculty Chair in Liberal Arts. In addition to Fat Shame, she is the author of Yours in Sisterhood: Ms. Magazine and the Promise of Popular Feminism. Farrell has appeared twice on television’s The Colbert Report to discuss the stigma against fat people."

Last Updated: February 23, 2013

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