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January 22, 2008

Thanks to everyone who responded to the last post. Challenging orthodoxy is difficult, but challenging it in a classroom setting is most often totally futile unless approached correctly. Again, it’s a parallel I see between the body acceptance and animal rights movements, going against a thousand cultural norms and ‘facts’ that ‘everyone knows.’ You have to be very careful not to sound like a total quack.

I had decided to take the advice of several people and find a couple of articles and studies contradicting the idea of obesity being easily ‘curable.’ I also prepared a few questions that I hoped didn’t sound overly rehearsed (acting skills do come in handy!) about the complexity of human metabolism. I figured the next time she brought it up I would ask a few basic questions then approach her later, outside of class, to show her some of the information I had “just found” when researching the topic.

Turns out that it was all unnecessary. During our next class, while lecturing on the structure of carbohydrates and lipids, our professor somehow got on the topic of BMI, someone asked if we were going to learn about healthy weights and bmi and such.

“We’ll do a quick overview of bmi. It’s history. The categories etc… But I won’t spend a lot of time on it because I think it’s garbage. We will talk about making healthy food choices for various people in different stages of life, but we won’t talk about any monolithic healthy weight categories because they don’t exist. It’s different for everyone.”*

People seemed very upset by her pronouncement. I nearly cheered.

I mean, it’s not perfection. She still talks about avoiding calorie-dense food so as not to gain weight so I’m guessing that she’s one of the people who believes in healthy weight ranges so long as no one is “too” fat. But still, you could tell her message was revolutionary to most of the class.

I swear. Between this and the now famous NY Times article, I’m expecting a full fatty revolution any day now.

  1. January 23, 2008 2:01 am

    Most of the trolls I am getting today are in full-on defense mode re: the BMI. It’s SCIENCE, don’t you know? *snort* I’m so glad that your prof not only thinks it is garbage but says so in the classroom. Rock on.

  2. pennylane permalink
    January 23, 2008 11:53 am

    That’s awesome! As an instructor I was not great at giving advice because I of two minds. On the one hand I think it is important to get the correct information out there and challenge the orthodoxy. But it is also hard to have your authority challenged in the classroom (especially as a young female, I have to say). But it sounds like your prof is at least somewhat informed AND might be open to discussions about the science. It’s funny that the proclamation upset some people in the class. I guess we do tend to cling to what we think is “true” but I also can’t help but think it’s troubling to find that the reason you had for disliking teh fat has no grounding and thus your fat hate is really just bigotry.

  3. January 23, 2008 2:44 pm

    Yeah, Penny, I was definitely of several minds about bringing it up in class.

    I think if she hadn’t said what she did in class, I would have brought it up in a way that respected her expertise. Like, asking her opinion on the interpretations of a few of the articles on JFS.

    But honestly, I’m glad I don’t have to do it at all.

    I think a lot of the people in class were of the “don’t take away my hope” variety. Their disappointment was palpable. Although I hope some of my classmates will remember what the professor said the next time they think or say something nasty about a fat person.

  4. January 24, 2008 2:35 am

    That’s quite a turn-around. Yeah, not perfect I guess, but far less dire than if she taught BMI as written in stone. And maybe you can talk to her about presenting/addressing alternate ideas about fatness and health to the class? Kind of exciting.

    It’s SCIENCE, don’t you know?
    So is making a volcano out of baking soda and vinegar

  5. January 24, 2008 3:08 am

    Wait! That means if I eat baking soda and vinegar then my stomach will erupt! But I often use the two in my baking so….

    have I already exploded?

    Science is hard.

  6. January 25, 2008 3:58 pm

    Science is hurrrrrrd, yes. But it will enbiggen ur brain.

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