York University Professor on ‘Fat Queer Art’: Big Stomachs Are ‘Glorious’

A patient is classified as being "severe obese" if they have a body-mass index (BMI) of 40+

A professor at York University in Toronto, Canada, argues in a recent academic journal article on “fat queer art” that large stomachs are “glorious.”

Allyson Mitchell, a professor at York University’s School of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, argues in a recently published journal article that “fat queer art” can liberate obese individuals from the social perception that they are slow and lazy.

The article, which is titled, “Sedentary lifestyle: Fat queer craft,” explains that the social association between obesity and “laziness, deceleration, and lack of movement,” is oppressive to overweight individuals. Mitchell seeks to correct this stereotype. “When is fat seen?” she asks.

“What do we learn from fat queer craft as a process of reading and making representations of fatness by, for, and about folks who identify as fat?” Mitchell begins. “Leveraging the fat body’s association with slowness, the artistic and narrative work demonstrate how time, corporeality, adipose tissue, affect, and context mediated through an academic-activist-artist lens can make fat known in unusual ways.”

Mitchell goes on to detail how she sketched pencil drawings of her own hand and thighs to allow herself to truly “understand what fat looks like.”

These pencil drawings use my first memories of seeing fat to understand what fat looks like (Figure 1). The illustration of fat thighs is obscure and the perspective is poorly rendered. The hand is cartoonish and lacks detail. I spent only 30 minutes on each drawing because I knew that they were first steps, intended to create momentum. I knew I had a lot more to learn about the spaces between what I remember, what I know and see, and what I can articulate through these processes. But the 40-year gestation period from first memory to artistic representation, from absorbing and knowing into my fat body and consciousness, is vast.

Mitchell completed another pencil drawing, this time of a friend’s “gunt.” Mitchell explains that “gunt” is a colloquial term for a “fat pubis area between the genitals and the stomach,” a portmanteau of the words “c*nt” and “gut.” Gunts are beautiful, Mitchell argues. Why? According to her scholarship, it takes time for gravity to bring them down and shape them in all of their “glory.”

Pencil drawing depicts a friend’s gunt—a colloquial term for a fat pubis area between the genitals and the stomach (sometimes called F.U.P.A. or fat upper pubis area). Simply put, gunt is the combination of the words gut and cunt. Deuce (2002) on Urban Dictionary referred to the gunt as “the dreaded gut-cunt. Usually hanging out from beneath a belly-shirt on a girl who has no right wearing one.” This “definition” is followed by deeply fatphobic and misogynist examples of how this term may be utilized. Gunts are not born but grow over time. It takes years to cultivate this part of the body. It takes time and gravity to bring that down, to round it out, and to create its glory. It is queer to love the gunt because gunts are generally despised in normative culture.

She goes on to argue that exploring “fat queer art” is a mode of “resistance” to “accelerationist capitalism.” She suggests that the more that fat individuals practice “sitting, making, and crafting” the more they are resisting “exercise culture, health culture, and body norms.”

She isn’t wrong.


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