Sociology professor Andrea Hunt of the University of North Alabama wants her school to add “body size” to the college diversity curriculum so that fat students and teachers will no longer have to put up with the “weight-based microaggressions” they currently deal with from day to day.
Hunt is the recent author of an article called “Fat Pedagogy and Microaggressions: Experiences of Professionals Working in Higher Education Settings,” which is a fancy way of saying: Chunky people are not happy and the school needs to do something about it. But that doesn’t sound very college-y, so we understand why she chose the title she did.
In the course of writing this article, Hunt interviewed 13 overweight administrators about the perils of walking around school with a spare tire hanging over their belts. And when you see their complaints, you’ll notice that these “microaggressions” are not what you might believe them to be at first. No one’s necessarily calling these administrators “fatso” or putting gym advertisements in their mail cubbyholes. No, this is a lot more…ahem…subtle.
“I’ve experienced microaggressions around business wear/office clothes,” said one woman, called Anita for the purposes of the paper. Apparently Anita finds it difficult to shop for clothes because she’s, you know, not in a shape that manufacturers recognize as typical for the human figure. She claims that her coworkers are “resistant to discussions of size privilege and business casual requirements” in the office. We’re not exactly sure what that means, but we’re guessing it’s something like this:
Anita: I can’t find any clothes that fit me.
Patricia: You should come to Pilates with me after school.
Anita writes furiously in her microaggression journal, taking special care not to spill any mustard on the page.
Some of what the interview subjects told Hunt was a little more understandably offensive.
“Because I am a chubby black woman who happens to be very curvy, folks think that it is acceptable to sing songs about big butts or make comments about having some ‘junk in the trunk,’” said a woman named Desiree.
Well, okay, that’s not something a woman should have to deal with in a workplace environment, but does it really mean the college has to turn fat people into yet another protected group? What if they were teasing her about her hair, instead? Or her name? Or any of a thousand other things that human beings tease each other about? How many special groups can we create?