Teaching (and) Fat Stigma in Philosophy

Kristin Rodier, Samantha Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


This article draws on authors’ experiences as fat-bodied white women philosophers, empirical research about fat discrimination, and common teaching topics and practices to reflect on fat stigma in dominant forms of teaching philosophy. We situate our critique in fat studies literature, locating the “normal professor body” within eugenic social and political movements, and the transatlantic slave trade. We outline how fat stigma specifically applies to historical and contemporary forms of Western canonical teaching practices and materials. Many of the topics philosophers teach on practical rationality evoke stereotypes about fat-bodied people as bad eaters, and activate stereotype threat for fat philosophers, thus affecting performance and credibility. We offer the case of “fat man” hypotheticals in contemporary analytic ethics as cases of perpetuating stigma, thereby undermining their pedagogical efficacy. We conclude by offering recommendations for teaching in ways that mitigate the influence of fat stigmatizing stereotypes and stereotype threat for fat philosophers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-207
Number of pages19
JournalTeaching Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun. 2023


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