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Sizism: Resources for Teaching

The following messages respond to a query about sizism resources for
teaching.  They were sent to WMST-L in August 2001.  For more WMST-L
files now available on the Web, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 13:02:15 -0400
From: Jeannie Ludlow <jludlow @ BGNET.BGSU.EDU>
Subject: sizism--help req.
Hi everyone,

I'm trying to put together a short curriculum (2-4 class sessions) on
size diversity for use in our Women's Studies and Cultural Diversity
courses.  I have lots of information that is, well, scholarly in
tone, and I have quite a bit of personal essay info to draw from, as
well.  I would like to have some more artistic sources to include in
these multi-disciplinary courses.  I have a bit of poetry (Lucille
Clifton's "Homage to my Hips" is wonderful), but would welcome more.
I would also love to have a fictional piece (either a short story or
a novel) that is told from the point of view of a person who is fat.
Does anyone have any suggestions?

Please reply privately, and I'll compile and post the results.

Thanks in advance,

Dr. Jeannie Ludlow
jludlow  @  bgnet.bgsu.edu
Director of Undergraduate Program
American Culture Studies
107 East Hall
Bowling Green State U
Bowling Green OH 43403
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 00:28:45 EDT
From: Huddis @ AOL.COM
Subject: Sizism -- help req.
Dear Jeannie and All,

Please post this information on list and please tell me what you have used in
teaching and what has worked best and, if you can figure it out, why.  I am
dealing with a diverse group of multi-ethnic, multi-class, multi-faith
community origins white professional but non-academic women ages 27-72 who
(believe they) are committed to social justice for/and women but who have
never considered that there is something wrong with discrimination against
fat women.  They all think "if they don't want to be discriminated against,
all they have to do is lose weight."

They are willing to read about ten pages worth of material but no more
because they just can't believe that "it matters" and want to concentrate on
"serious, real" social justice issues.

Needless to say, they make me really mad.  They make me so mad that I can't
talk to them about the issue any more.  Since I am fat, they assume that
anything I have to say is some sort of sickish self-justification of -- well,
you know, absence of self-control, sloth, moral laxity, sinfulness, laziness,
and so forth.  So, please advise me about what ten pages to offer to them in
place of just strangling them.  Also, an exercise or two that you have used
with such groups to sensitize them on this issue.

Thanks, Susan Koppelman <<huddis  @  aol.com>>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 07:20:39 -0500
From: Mev Miller <wplp @ WINTERNET.COM>
Subject: Re: Sizism -- help req.
I have written a short, general article that touches on many issues
related to hating fat women. The "statistics" may be a little old but
the issues are unfortunately very much the same... hopefully your
library can get it for you. It also contains some suggestions for
additional reading.

(1996). Fat politics: The bottom line is women¦s power. Melpomene: A
      Journal for Women¦s Health Research, 15, (3), 15-19.

Mev Miller

Women's Presses Library Project
..keeping women's words in circulation
Mev Miller, Project Coordinator
1483 Laurel Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104-6737

651-646-1153 /fax

wplp  @  winternet.com
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 09:05:20 -0400
From: janet montelaro <jjm6+ @ PITT.EDU>
Subject: Re: sizism--help req.
Jeannie and others interested in a wonderful article related to size
oppression should check with my former student Emily Habermehl whose
personal essay was selected for publication in an on-line magazine.  The
article is titled "Waiting to Sing."  Emily works for TARAL in Austin, TX,
and can be reached at <emilyhabermehl  @  hotmail.com>

Janet Montelaro  <jjm6  @  pitt.edu>
Women's Studies Program
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 624-0326
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 14:41:42 -0500
From: Lisa Johnson <ljohnson @ WESTGA.EDU>
Subject: fat advocacy
In addition to the suggestions I sent privately to Jeannie (Fat Black
Woman's Poems by Grace Nichols, essays by Nomi Lamm, and the - I think -
online zine, Fat!So?) I wanted to add that the Women's Review of Books
had a great article in it over the summer that analyzed metaphors of
"fat" in current political debates over the U.S. economy (i.e. Bush on
"tightening our belts"). The author of the essay begins by acknowledging
her bodily presence in the world and describing her eating practices
(sometimes shirtless so that fruit juices dribble on her belly),
achieving a very effective blend of personal essay and social

Lisa Johnson
ljohnson  @  westga.edu
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 20:00:50 -0600
From: Marilyn Grotzky <mgrotzky @ carbon.cudenver.edu>
Subject: Re: Sizism -- help req.
Sizism is an issue that one of my very slender students took up, having
watched people at McDonald's stare disapprovingly at a large friend who had
chosen a fairly moderate lunch.  She couldn't believe her friend went
through this sort of censorship all the time, so she investigated.

Obviously Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly series is one place to start,
especially the 2nd in the series, Still Killing Us Softly -- media and the
images of women.

I sometimes bring in catalogs from Title 9 Sports, which often uses athletes
as models -- granted they are thin, they have muscle definition, crow's
feet, smile lines, and frown lines from the effort of what they are doing.
Some look like young men.  They don't all have perfect chin lines and
cheekbones, and makeup for that "poreless look" has been sweated off if it
ever appeared.  Since being fit is important to most women, this is a good
look that breaks the "model beauty" mold.  I also use Junonia catalogs,
which have large size models (like size 24, not size 14) playing tennis and
lifting weights and smiling.  Models are different shapes, races, and ages.
It underlines the fact that it very hard to find decent exercise clothes in
large sizes.  There's usually a heroine story -- a real life plus-size
person who has used her fitness to accomplish something.  I like using these
with Killing Us Softly because they present contrasts in image.  There are
also a fair number of articles about tiny gymnasts and skaters and whether
their training is good for them.

And then there's a 1999 book called Women by Annie Leibovitz and Susan
Sontag, with Sontag presenting an essay on beauty and dozens of Leibovitz
photos of women, some famous, some not.  Three ladies lunching in Chanel and
full make-up over surgically stretched skin and then three coal miners,
Elizabeth Taylor with white hair, 4 showgirls (show women? Las Vegas
performers?)in performance dress and in street clothes, 2 Supreme Court
judges, Martha Stewart, a young rabbi, Courtney Love, trapeze performers, a
waitress, a weight lifter, Joni Mitchell.  It might be interesting for
everyone to choose a favorite picture and explain why they like it.  This is
a fascinating book.  Everyone who sees it is captivated.  I urge all 4000
list-serv members to look for an at it.

If anyone in class is a mystery fan, Barbara Neeley has a well established
series featuring Blanch White, a dark skinned African American who faces
prejudice from other African Americans because of her skin color, from many
Americans because she works as a cleaning woman, and from many because she's
a size 16 (Blanche on the Lam, Blanche and the Talented Tenth).  A newer
series has been created by Lynne Murray (Larger than Death, Large Target).
This one features Josephine Fuller (they are well enough written that you
forget the "Fuller/Larger/Bigger/Fatter joke almost immediately) as a
professional detective who uses the "no one sees because no one looks at"
fat people to her advantage.  She also likes her red silk lounging outfit.

Perhaps helping students move away from a single image of beauty rather than
go mostly for the size issue might help students recognize that beauty is
more than one shape, size, height, or attitude.

With very real sincerity,
Good Luck,
Marilyn Grotzky
Auraria Library
Denver, Colorado
mgrotzky  @  carbon.cudenver.edu
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 12:53:43 -0500
From: Mev Miller <wplp @ WINTERNET.COM>
Subject: Re: Sizism -- help req.
>And then there's a 1999 book called Women by Annie Leibovitz and Susan
>Sontag, with Sontag presenting an essay on beauty and dozens of Leibovitz
>photos of women, some famous, some not.

this reminded me of another book which I believe is still available -
and it, for sure, will stimulate a lot of discussion:

Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes
Photography by Laurie Toby Edison & Text by debbie Notkin
Books in Focus, $24.95, 1-885495-00-5, 1994


Women's Presses Library Project
..keeping women's words in circulation
Mev Miller, Project Coordinator
1483 Laurel Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104-6737

651-646-1153 /fax

wplp  @  winternet.com
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001 11:40:02 -0400
From: "Cambridge Documentary Films, Inc." <cdf @ SHORE.NET>
Subject: Re: Sizism -- help req.
>Obviously Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly series is one place to start,
>especially the 2nd in the series, Still Killing Us Softly -- media and the
>images of women.

Thank you for suggesting two films that we produced and directed as part of
your curriculum on sizism. I would also like to suggest a third film, we
recently produced "Beyond Killing Us Softly: The Strength to Resist." It
features eating disorder expert, Dr. Catherine Steiner Adair who has done
important research with girls and women on body image, there is an
excellent section by a 13 year old girl who talks about her struggles and
her friends' struggles with fear of fat and there are several extremely
informative sequences with media analyst, Gail Dines of Wheelock College
featuring reactions to very big women and analyzing the trends to extreme
thinness in women's images in print, on television and on the internet. We
have a free preview available. Thanks you. Erin from Cambridge Documentary

Cambridge Documentary Films, Inc.
P.O. Box 390385 Cambridge, MA 02139-0004
ph (617)484-3993  fx (617)484-0754
cdf  @  shore.net
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001 19:37:53 -0400
From: janet montelaro <jjm6+ @ PITT.EDU>
Subject: Re: Sizism -- help req.
Dear LaTasha: The film mentioned [in the previous message], The
Strength to Resist, sounds like it might fit well with the film THE
FAMINE WITHIN which we are showing later in the year.  Would you
please check Pitts media resource catalogue to see if it is available?
Thanks, and have a great weekend.  Janet

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