Fat Studies in Canada: (Re)Mapping the Field re-envisions what it means to be fat in the colonial project known as Canada, exploring the unique ways that fat studies theorists, academics, artists, and activists are troubling and thickening existing fat studies literature.
Weaving together academic articles and alternative forms of narration, including visual art and poetry, this edited collection captures multi-dimensional experiences of being fat in Canada. Together, the chapters explore the subject of fat oppression as it acts upon individuals and collectives, unpacking how fat bodies at various intersections of gender, sexuality, racialization, disability, neurodivergence, and other axes of embodiment have been understood, both historically and within contemporary Canada.
Taking a critical approach to dominant framings of fatness, particularly those linked to an “obesity epidemic,” Fat Studies in Canada aims to interrogate and dismantle systemic fat oppression by (re)centering and (re)valuing fat voices and epistemologies. Ultimately, the volume introduces new ways of celebrating fatness and fat life in Northern Turtle Island.
“This is an excellent and timely collection of essays and artwork exploring and (re)mapping the field of fat studies in Canada. It was an honour to engage with these critical works. The multiple points of knowledge contribution from creative to traditional academic essay complements this growing field. The weight of these various kinds of contributions make for an incredibly insightful read.”
—Allyson Mitchell, Artist, Professor of Gender Studies, and Founder of Pretty Porky and Pissed Off
“These chapters weave a tapestry of theoretical, personal, and embodied responses to the provocation of what it means to be fat in Canada. Most (perhaps all) of the contributions could stand alone as articles or poems; together, they generate an intensity of thought and feeling that I’ve rarely observed in volumes of this kind. This volume stands to make a critical contribution across teaching and learning contexts, as well as to kickstart further theorizing around fatness, particularly situated, localized, and intersectional experiences of fatness. I find myself writing these general thoughts with mostly a round of applause running through my head as I meditate on the words so generously offered herein.”
—Andrea LaMarre, PhD
“How wonderful to read Fat Studies in Canada that incorporates an intersectional perspective to challenge ‘eurothincentricity’! I am delighted to see the editors and authors throwing their weight around—describing fat identity in Canada, reviewing fat studies scholarship in the Canadian context, and reflecting on ways to combat fat oppression in Canada. Reading it is an experience of fat joy and affirmation, fat magic and fat pleasure.”
—Esther Rothblum, PhD, and Editor, Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society
“A brilliant and unapologetic collection that is sure to transform the field of fat studies in Canada. These skilfully curated essays expose the dynamics of fat oppression and liberation through cutting-edge research, critical theory, and the essential lived experiences of fat people. With a strong emphasis on intersectionality, this volume is a must-read for those looking to deepen their understanding of queer, feminist, crip, or critical race theory. The incorporation of art and poetry captures a full emotional range of fat embodiment, including anger, eroticism, and joy. Whether you’re a seasoned fat activist or just starting out, this essential volume will enlighten you about what it means to be fat in Canada.”
—Margaret Robinson, Associate Professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Reconciliation, Gender, and Identity
“This powerful, path-breaking anthology brings together emerging and established leaders in the field of fat studies from across the area of Turtle Island known as ‘Canada,’ applying intersectional and decolonizing perspectives to fat experience, identity, and embodiment. Through accessible and engaging social and cultural analysis, innovative theoretical and methodological explorations, and compelling poetry and visual art, contributors address the structural and affective implications of fat oppression while opening and expanding possibilities for fat joy, desire, and liberation.”
—Dr. Carla Rice, Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Feminist Studies and Social Practice; Founding Director, Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph; Principal Investigator & Co-Director, Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life
Allison Taylor (she/her) is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph. She holds a PhD in gender, feminist, and women’s studies from York University. Her current research uses arts-based methods to examine how intersecting ableism and antifatness constitute barriers to public resources, services, and spaces for people of marginalized genders in Ontario. Allison is also working on creating a digital archive and a pedagogical module for Re•Vision on the subject of fat activist art. Her work can be found in many places, including Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society, the Journal of Lesbian Studies, Psychology & Sexuality, and the Routledge International Handbook of Fat Studies.
Kelsey Ioannoni, PhD, is a fat solo mom and sociologist based out of Toronto, Canada. Her research focuses on the power dynamics between primary care physicians and patients (fat women), and how their conceptualizations of health—based on the BMI—negatively affects the lives of fat Canadian women. Further, she is interested in exploring the way fat women navigate fertility and reproductive care in Ontario.
Ramanpreet Annie Bahra is a PhD student in the sociology department at York University, Ontario, Canada. Her research concentrates on social theory, fat studies, and disability studies. Following new materialism and affect studies, her research interrogates the intersections of fatness, race, disability, and gender to offer alternative perspectives on the notion of the body and embodiment. In particular, the nexus of affect and fatness is interrogated to better understand how fat, racialized bodies experience this paradoxical state of life-in-death through the operationalization of the discourse of personhood and its inclusionary-exclusionary politics. Additionally, she is exploring the ways in which a feminist pedagogical practices rooted in social justice principles, research-creation, and emotionality can challenge the neoliberal mandates of post-secondary education, and thus offer new mappings and methods for learning in and through the collective body.
Calla Evans (she/her) is a fat, queer, disabled, white settler living on the stolen lands of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxw.7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓.lwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples, colonially known as Vancouver, BC. She is an image-maker, visual storyteller, digital problem solver, fat activist, and ex-academic. Much of her practice explores the material conditions of fatness in so called “Canada” as well as digital fat identity construction and performance. Calla currently works as a digital storytelling facilitator at Re•Vision: The Centre for Art & Social Justice. She is also the general manager of the Open Access Foundation for Art & Culture, a disability-justice situated organization that centres agency, self-determination, and disability-informed futures.
Amanda (Ama) Scriver (@amascriver) is a freelance journalist best known for being fat, loud, and shouty on the internet. Her writing has appeared on the platform Refinery 29 and in the Toronto Star, THIS, Healthline, and Xtra. She lives in Toronto with her partner and dog, Ocean.
May Friedman works as a faculty member at Toronto Metropolitan University. May’s research looks at unstable identities, including bodies that do not conform to normative tropes of race, ethnicity, ability, size, beauty, and health. Most recently, much of May’s research has focused on intersectional approaches to fat studies considering the multiple and fluid experiences of both fat oppression and fat activism. Drawing on a range of arts-based methods, including digital storytelling as well as analyses of treasured garments, May has explored meaning making and representation in relation to embodiment and experience.
Foreword – Jill Andrew
Introduction: Our Fat Liminal Grounds – Ramanpreet A. Bahra, Calla Evans, Kelsey Ioannoni, and Allison Taylor
Structural Fat Oppression
Soft Spaces – Yolanda Bonnell
“The White Man’s Burden”?: Obesity and Colonialism in the Developing North – Deborah McPhail
Fat Women’s Experiences and Negotiation of Fatphobia in Canada: A Systematic Review – Bidushy Sadika and Jinwen Chen
From Africa to the Diaspora, the Never-Ending Pursuit of the Standard Body – Faith Adodo and Fardosa Warsame
to anyone who thinks i’m ugly just because i don’t look like how you think i should – Francine Cunningham
The Magical Thinking That Permits Anti-Fat Experts to Fight Fat Stigma While Also Fighting Fat
– Jacqui Gingras and John-James Stranz
Mappings, Methods and Innovations
Sure Footing – Leslie Walters
Like the Tide – Emily Allan
The Full Spectrum of Living: Body Mapping as Affective Community – Katie Cook
Fragments on Fatness: Moments from a Digital Storytelling Archive on Trans Experiences of Weight Stigma – Jen Rinaldi, Karleen Pendleton Jiménez, Jake Pyne, May Friedman, Bridget Liang, and Phong Phi Tran Trinh
Lies Fatphobia Told Me – j wallace skelton
Coming home to our bodies: (Re)framing fatness through an exploration of fat vitality – Lauren Munro
Lines to Myself – Mars
Fattening Popular Culture
Explosive Fatness – Leslie Walters
“I’d wish to be tall and slender”: L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Series and the Regulatory Role of Slimness – Emily Bruusgaard
The Lives of Laura Cadieux: Fatness and Social Class in Québec – Audrey Laurin
Eating Scorn – Leslie Walters
Weighing In: A Critical Analysis of the 2020 Obesity Canada Guidelines – Kelsey Ioannoni
A Response to the 2020 Canadian Ob*sity Guidelines – Joanna Carson
#NoBodyIsDisposable. Acts of Care and Preservation: Reflections on Clinical Triage Protocols during COVID-19 – Tracy Tidgwell and Fady Shanouda
Diagnosis – Fat! – Derek Newman-Stille
PCOS: A Journey of Fatphobia in the Medical Field – Kirthan Aujlay
Behind Closed Doors: Navigating Fatphobia in the Mental Health Space – Amanda Scriver
Sexy Fat – Leslie Walters
Punch(ing) My Paunch – Rohini Bannerjee
Butch Bellies, Queer Desires – Karleen Pendleton Jiménez
Let Us Taste – Susie Mensah
Alternative Frameworks and Imaginings
Fat and Mad Bodies: Out of, Under, and Beyond Control – Fady Shanouda
Hefty Harm-Reduction: Body Liberation and/as Anti-Violence Work – Sookie Bardwell
The Affective State of Fat-Beingness within Debility Politics – Ramanpreet A. Bahra
Fat Trans Bodies in Motion: The Hazards of Space-Taking – Gin Marshall
Please Come and Be Fat – S. Bear Bergman