Washington State discontinues 'plus-size swimwear' course
Washington State University has quietly discontinued a “fat fashion” class that aimed to fight “fat stigma, weight bias, and thin privilege” following a Campus Reform report.
The school’s “Fat Studies” class, taught by Debbie Christel, aimed to explore “weight based oppression as a social justice issue with other systems of oppression based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and ability,” according to the course description.
Though the course was primarily offered through the Women’s Studies Department, it could also be taken for credit by students in the school’s Design and Textiles Program since a significant portion of the coursework was oriented around creating “plus-size swimsuits.”
Christel led the students in creating plus-size swimsuits as part of the “fat fashion pedagogy” that she was trying to pioneer, later publishing an article on her experiences with the class in the peer-reviewed academic journal Fat Studies.
Fat fashion pedagogy, Christel wrote, is a teaching method that uses “critical feminist and narrative pedagogies” to fight fat-stigma by “promoting activism to erode the thin-centric orientation” among her students.
“The outcomes indicate that, through [fat fashion pedagogy], students were successful in challenging and reducing their biases towards fat people and, in the process, produced plus-size swimwear for their fat female clientele,” Christel wrote, as Campus Reform reported last November.
“In sum, all academics should consider interdisciplinary pedagogy and integrate information about size discrimination and weight bias into their curriculum,” she added.
However, sometime after Campus Reform published its story, Washington State University pulled most references to the class from its website, and the class no longer appears in the school’s course directory.
A school official has since confirmed with Campus Reform that the class has been discontinued.
With the cancellation of “Fat Studies,” WSU joins schools like Tufts University, Willamette College, Portland State University, and the University of Maryland-College Park, all of which have discontinued their Fat Studies classes.
Christel did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen