I arrived in Philly on Thursday for the first ever Rebellious Nursing conference, dedicated to finding "inspiration, awareness, solidarity, and practical ways to impact health equity and health disparities among all living beings (from conference mission statement)."
I heard about the conference from my friend Asam over at It Gets Fatter. The conference founder, Sarah Lipkin, and I got together a few months ago over coffee and she told me about how truly heinous nursing education is around fat/phobia. She said the conference needed a workshop that addressed this. So, Brooklyn-based Geleni Fontaine (friend, acupuncturist, fat activist) and I developed "Fat Positive Possibilities for Rebellious Health Workers" over some phone calls and emails.
Honestly, despite having had fatphobic experiences with medical professionals myself, I must say I didn't know how bad things were until I started preparing for the conference.
I was really invested in sharing the results of the survey I conducted on fat patient medical care. See this Special Report for those results (trigger warning: this report includes narratives of fat shaming and medical neglect). Since I'm super nerdy, I was also interested in bringing an intersectional theoretical understanding of the issue of fatphobia to the conference goers.
Here are some of the slides from my presentation:
Many people think that fatphobia is just about fat stigma and may miss the ways that it intersects with and adds to other stigmas related to race, class and gender. "Stigma loading" is the phrase I use to describe the harmful cumulative effects of multiple stigmas interacting. The experience of stigma loading can be highly individualized.
Excitingly, the workshop was really well attended! Every seat was filled! Yay deconstructing fatphobia for large audiences!
Geleni and I offered a lot of answers and resources, among them:
And now gratuitous pictures from the trip:
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.