Students will examine ‘conflicting messages’ about food, course description states
A freshman writing seminar offered at Cornell University this fall is focused on “particular ways in which queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (QTBIPOC) folks have given, received, and experienced care through food and other means.”
Offered through the Cornell Department of Performing and Media Arts, the course will ask students to consider “conflicting messages” about food that, on the surface, may seem caring but could unintentionally hurt QTBIPOC “folks,” its online description states.
Assignments for the class, titled “Have You Eaten Yet? QTBIPOC Care,” will include essays and discussions on “topics of care, fatness, queerness, and family … with creative opportunities for extra credit,” it adds.
The course appears to be an example of the burgeoning “fat studies” field in higher education, including research published in academic journals, symposiums and classes devoted to studying the topic.
Students will explore the issue through “written theory and popular media texts,” including pop singer Lizzo’s music videos, the TV shows “Shrill” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and other entertainment media, its description states.
The instructor, Ariel Dela Cruz, is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. Cruz’s bio on the university website lists “they/he” pronouns and touts research in “queer studies, trans studies, Filipinx diasporic studies, performance, and care work.”
Cruz’s “current research project focuses on alternative modes of care performed by tomboy and transmasculine caregivers across the Filipinx labour diaspora,” according to the bio.
“In 2022, they began serving as a Global Racial Justice Fellow at the Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University,” the bio states.
Cruz did not respond to requests for more information from The College Fix, including a detailed description of and goals for the class.
The course is among a series of writing seminars offered to first-year Cornell students this fall on topics including race, feminism, “queer,” “gender” and “BIPOC” studies.
According to the university website, undergraduates are required to take two first-year writing seminars.
In recent years, advocating against the alleged oppression of overweight people has been added to the plethora of “social justice” issues on college campuses.
In 2020, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse sociology Professor Laurie Cooper Stoll and a group of students demanded their college provide desks to fit a wider range of body shapes, claiming the current desks could induce shame, The College Fix reported.
In an article that year, “Fat is a social justice issue, too,” Stoll described “fat phobia [as] a system of oppression worthy of greater theoretical and empirical consideration in humanist sociology.” She is considered a leader in scholarly research about the issue.
The underlying idea behind the “fat studies” field is overweight people are oppressed by society and they should be welcomed and celebrated. For example, Stoll’s university hosted a 2018 spring symposium titled “No More Apologies: Fatphobia, Body Positivity and Social Justice,” The College Fix reported at the time.
While academia embraces the concept of “fatness,” most doctors continue to recognize obesity as a serious health problem.
According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, being overweight or obese can increase an individual’s risk of “coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, sleep apnea,” cancer and other health problems.
Similar to the acceptance of obesity in “fat studies,” some education watchdogs argue campus “transgender studies” programs also tend to ignore potential health risks, seemingly prioritizing an individual’s emotional feelings rather than considering the best, long-term strategies to ensure their physical and emotional wellbeing.