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University of Denver Hosts Event on the American ‘War Against Fat People’

Fat Acceptance activist Virgie Tovar, speaking at Yale this week
Flickr/TEDx SoMa

The University of Denver hosted obesity acceptance speaker Virgie Tovar on Tuesday evening who discussed America’s “war against fat people.”

Virgie Tovar, who calls herself “one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image,” spoke at the University of Denver this week. Tovar focused on the “War Against Fat (People),” and the evils of American diet culture.

According to the event description, Tovar spoke about the origins of American culture and how it inspired a war against fat people. Tovar also approaches issues of body weight through the lens of intersectionality theory, meaning that overweight Americans who are also the member of a minority group face a unique compounded form of discrimination.

The story of modern day diet culture begins 200 years ago with a man named Reverend Sylvester Graham, inventor of the graham cracker and founder of the Dietary Reform Movement. As the current war against fat (people) mounts, the food on our plates and the size of our waists have become part of the public domain. In this lecture, Virgie Tovar, author and fat activist, offers an in-depth discussion of diet culture and fatphobia with an eye to the intersections of race, gender, and class.

According to Tovar, Graham’s belief that low-fat foods led to healthier bodies instilled a fear of overweight people in American society.

In 2017, Tovar gave a TedTalk entitled “Lose Hate Not Weight.” In the talk, Tovar explained that she had an awakening in college after coming across scholars in the emerging “Fat Studies” field. Tovar argued that body shaming, not obesity, is an epidemic in American society. She argued that American society teaches children to hate fat people. Of course, Tovar avoids commentary about the scientifically-proven health risks that result from obesity.

Tovar spoke at Yale University last week, where she argued that being fat in America is a revolutionary political act.

Like Tovar, many young Americans are currently discovering the “Fat Studies” movement at colleges around the country. The fat acceptance movement has found a home on college campuses from Yale to Johns Hopkins to the University of Vermont. In March, several events promoting unhealthy attitudes about obesity took place on college campuses.

“Fat sex therapist” Sonalee Rashatwar told students during a lecture at the University of Vermont  to “throw [their] scales in the trash.”

“Health at Every Size” founder Linda Bacon spoke at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University on March 1.

Despite the growth of “Fat Studies,” Breitbart News published a column condemning the fat acceptance movement in early 2017 that received almost 20,000 Facebook shares.

The fat acceptance movement was born out of nothing more than a desire to spare the feelings of the obese in a 21st-century society that places significance on health and body image. The path to happiness for obese individuals is not radical self-love but rather accepting that obesity poses legitimate health risks and then taking the necessary steps towards obtaining a healthier body.

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