'Fat studies' focus of conference

Last updated 12:13 10/07/2012
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TIPPING THE SCALES: Topics at the conference will include fat pride, obesity panic, unfixing body size and shape and teaching children about fitness and fatness.

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The nation's first fat conference will be held in Wellington this week and aims to challenge assumptions about chubby people.

Topics include fat pride, obesity panic, unfixing body size and shape and teaching children about fitness and fatness.

Massey University lecturer Cat Pause said the relationship between weight and health is more complicated than people think.

"As a fat activist and scholar I want to change the national discourse on fatness and hopefully this conference will take another step in that direction,'' Dr Pause said.

"Fat people deserve the same rights and dignity as non-fat people, which we currently don't have.''

Fat studies is a small and emerging field that challenges existing assumptions about fatness and fat people.

The human development lecturer said fat studies critiqued negative assumptions, looked at the impact on fat peoples' lives, challenged the fat stigma and pushed for social justice.

The New Zealand Fat Studies: Reflective Intersection's conference will be held on Thursday and Friday at Massey University's Wellington campus.

Speakers include Massey University's Andrew Dickson who says the multibillion-dollar weight loss industry profits from manipulating people's anxieties.

He looked into the industry for his PhD thesis after shedding about 40 kilograms over four months from a starting point of 135 kilograms.

Keynote speaker Dr Samantha Murray from Macquarie University will talk about her experience as a fat studies scholar, as a feminist who identifies as being fat, and as a woman who has undergone weight loss surgery.

It is the only fat studies conference being held in the world this year.


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- The Dominion Post


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