The F-Word: Examining the Science, Culture, and Politics of Fatness

Course Description

Ten years ago, you could hardly open a magazine without seeing an advertisement for a fad diet. Today, you can hardly open TikTok without seeing a self-proclaimed "body-positive" influencer, with some even going as far as to call themselves "fat positive." Despite these creators' best efforts, the word "fat" still holds an overwhelmingly negative connotation. While thousands of dietitians and even the CDC continue to speak of the so-called "obesity epidemic," a number of recent sociological publications have detailed the racial origins of fatphobia, condemning the anti-fat sentiment of so many authorities. All of this begs the question: is this a public health or social justice issue? An introduction to the emerging academic field of "Fat Studies," this course is not meant to indoctrinate you with the tenets of the body positivity community but rather to provide you with the information and skills necessary to think critically about how fatphobia permeates the fabric of our society.

In this course, you can expect to learn about the many perspectives surrounding fatness throughout history and across cultures. You will consider the pathologization of fatness in the medical community and the rising prevalence of eating disorders, as well as how fatphobia intersects with other systems of oppression. We will investigate these topics through a multimedia exploration of academic writing, visual/artistic texts, social media, popular culture, and more. Though readings assigned in and out of class will be engaging and important, we will emphasize discussion-based and small-group learning, as well as a culminating reflective writing assignment.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Read, write, and speak thoughtfully and confidently about the topics presented in the course
  • Discuss and understand the social, medical, and cultural implications of fatness
  • Think critically about differing perspectives relating to the stigmatization of fatness in modern society
  • Apply major theoretical lenses to the study of fatness, including the feminist/gender lens, reader-response lens, historical lens, and race lens
  • Synthesize their understandings, criticisms, and assertions in order to compose a short, cohesive reflection on the topics presented in the course
In the end, you will have analyzed these topics through a number of transferable, theoretical lenses, preparing you for further learning in college and critical thinking in real-world contexts.


While there are no prerequisites for this course, all students should arrive open-minded and prepared to engage respectfully with others.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 18, 2022 - July 22, 2022
*Duration: 1 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 3:30P-6:20P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Victoria Lonardo
Course Number: 10342