“Our bodies are more than our bodies”: Expanding social work understandings of race and fat
Keywords:fat and fat hatred, race and racism, intersectionality, arts-based methods, weight stigma
In this article, we want to explore the ways that racism and fat hatred are intrinsically connected. These connections occur in both individual experiences of body shame and empowerment, but also within bigger systemic inequalities that have historically connected hatred of size and colour, and in contemporary realities in which rhetoric of “obesity” is used to justify surveillance and policing of bigger, darker bodies. In other words, there is no justice with regard to race without a close examination of fat hatred.
This article takes up nine such experiences that were gathered as part of a digital-storytelling project. The project allowed nine makers to create micro-documentaries: multimedia stories that range from 1 to 5 minutes in length. These stories complicate ideas around race and size, consider the ways in which we are given contradictory messages around pride and shame, family and community, health and belonging. The stories resist easy categorization, allowing for a supple, shape-shifting dialogue around race and fat to emerge, yielding more questions than answers.
While the nine filmmakers span a range of diversities, all have a relationship to social work as students, educators, and practitioners. Their experiences suggest that a more robust engagement with the politics of fat studies and, specifically, the complications of Black, Indigenous and people of colour’s experiences of fat hatred must critically inform social work knowledge. These stories thus provoke the need for a heightened understanding of fat and race while simultaneously providing content that allows for difficult and important conversations to emerge.
LicenseIntersectionalities is an open access journal. Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).