10 July 2009

Conference Report: Leisure Studies Association Conference 2009

There is no regular Fat Studies gathering in the UK at present, and the first ESRC seminar is not until next year, but Fat Studies scholars are meeting as guests of other academic organisations and events nevertheless.

On Tuesday the Leisure Studies Association hosted a short seminar at their conference at Canterbury Christchurch University in Kent, which was convened by Dr Louise Mansfield. The meeting was titled: Critical Perspectives On Fat And Leisure.

Corinna Tomrley (The University of York, UK)
Body judgement or body diversity? Negotiating fatness in celebrity gossip magazines
Corinna talked about how fat, 'curvy' and thin celebrity bodies are presented in gossip magazines. Her presentation focussed on Beth Ditto and included material from her fieldwork concerning how women look at and consume such magazines.

Charlotte Cooper (University of Limerick, Ireland)
Fat Girl on a Bike - Introducing Health At Every Size
I used my experiences as a fat cyclist to talk about how a number of leisure organisations include anti-fat rhetoric in their mission statements and literature. I criticised this and introduced Health At Every Size as an alternative means of thinking about fat and health.

Lucy Aphramor (University of Coventry, UK)
What should we tell the students? Ethical challenges in teaching fat, fitness and health
Lucy showed how obesity science and obesity medicine is failing fat people in ethical terms. The medical ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence , for example, are not supported in medical practice that values health-depleting weight loss interventions, dodgy scientific rationales, and an inability to consider wider social health determinants.

Dr. Louise Mansfield presented work based on research undertaken by herself, Dr. Jennifer Smith Maguire (University of Leicester, UK), and Helen Curtis (Canterbury Christ Church University, UK).
Fat Bodies in Sport and Leisure: Discourse of Resistance and Change?
Louise talked about how fatness relates to the kinds of bodies that are valued most highly in fitness cultures. She talked about possibilities for resistance within such cultures and presented some examples, with discussion.

I am really glad that such events are taking place. It shows that ideas and academic community can develop and grow in modest circumstances. It is important that we support each other because, as many of us know from experience, we often face hostile and intimidating audiences when we take our work to venues that lack a basic understanding of alternative or critical fat discourses.

Thanks for setting it up Louise!


SharonC said...

Thanks for the report. Much appreciated as I can't get to everything!

Louise said...

Charlotte - a big thankyou for this report. Apolgies for being useless at posting this sort of stuff. It's really important and you've said it brilliantly.

Thanks again to all those you helped make the session so successful. It was recevied really well.

Here's to the special Fat issue of the journal Leisure Studies. I'm working on it.


Charlotte Cooper said...

Lou, it was a pleasure. I can't wait to see this new book take shape.