Academic Claims Small Desks Perpetuate ‘Fat Hatred’ In Class

The head of the Women and Girls Research Alliance at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC) claims fat people are placed in a “hostile physical environment” because of small desks in class. 

Heather Brown, published an article titled “There’s always stomach on the table and I gotta write! Physical space and learning in fat college women,” in the latest issue of the Fat Studies journal. 

Campus Reform reports Brown had a hefty sample size as she interviewed 13 fat college women for her research. 

She found that “classroom design and furniture,” particularly “too-small desks,” make fat women feel “unwanted” in class. Brown also claims that the desks prolong the existence of “thin privilege and fat hatred.”

One student Brown interviewed, identified as Kari, said she felt “self-conscious” in class because of the desk size, adding, “I can’t help thinking about it, and then it would turn into, like, ‘Maybe if I lose ten pounds then I wouldn’t look so fat in this desk…’”

Kari also claims to be too distracted in class to focus. 

“Sometimes, it’s just, like, ‘Do I look okay in this shirt? What if someone’s looking at me weird? What if I don’t look good in this shirt? What if this shirt makes my arms look fat?’” she told Brown. 

Brown suggests that many fat students may get bad grades due to “fat stigma,” arguing it “is not body weight but rather weight stigma that is a key barrier in learning.”

Brown says colleges “must make attempts to alleviate the damage a hostile physical environment causes to fat women learners,” suggesting this could be achieved by adding “differently sized chairs and tables.”

Brown, however, warns colleges must be careful when providing the furniture as they could make the situation worse. According to Brown, a “fat chair” or a few seating options for fat students could “further damage” a fat student’s self-esteem. 

“Universities and colleges can mitigate the negative effects of the physical learning environment. Do they have the courage to listen?” Brown concludes. 

Maybe she should ask for subsidized running shoes instead. 

Featured Image Via Pixabay


Campus Reform