This is important, Christina Fisanick’s article Fat Professors feel compelled to overperform should be read by everyone in academia. Mostly because academia is supposed to be this place without this kind of discrimination.
In our culture, obesity equals moral and intellectual laziness. Fat professors feel compelled to overperform. I’ve felt the need to make the fat invisible and be even more excellent at my teaching duties. I’ve wanted people to look at my mind and not at my body. But I realize that my body is important in the classroom—I can use it as a tool—so I no longer try to flatten myself.
I believe there is fat discrimination in academia, but there’s no hard evidence. The numbers of obese faculty are low. The problem is that society believes the university is above all that. Many people think that muscles and beauty don’t matter here, but we are a mirror of our culture at large. People bring their attitudes about obesity to the classroom. They think that if you’re fat you’re lazy, that you’re not going to want to participate in the committee work. These stereotypes play on people’s thinking when they’re making hiring decisions.
It’s not that I didn’t know that there was many forms of discrimination in academia – despite its lofty ideals – it’s just the shallowness of discrimination offends me. The last time fat-shaming in academia reared its idiotic head was in the incredibly shallow, simple-minded, and shallow tweet of NYU professor Geoffrey Miller:
For fucks sake! Really Geoff? How dumb are you really. Firstly the fact that fat people have will power does not need to be proved. Just look around you. Second of all, you should know that this view is discriminatory, fat-shaming, rude and borderline illegal. He later “apologized” with the enigmatic words that his own tween did not reflect his “views, values, or standards”
Really Geoff? This is the strangest disclaimer (after the fact) I have ever read. I dislike the whole “Tweets are my own” “RT does not mean endorsement” culture but to actually state that your tweets do not reflect your own ideas seems just nuts. So yes, I know that he probably reacted to save his arrogant ass but as apologies go this is pretty insincere.
If we are supposed to be intelligent humans working to advance science this whole fat-shaming must stop. Now.