Tag Archives: Discrimination

Minor Feelings

Book Cover of Minor Feelings by Cathy Park HongIt was uncanny. I don’t know if it was just that I happened to be stumbling on all these titles around the same time or that reading one revealed the roads to the others: Romance and the “Yellow Peril”: Race, Sex and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction by Gina Marchetti, Curry: Eating, Reading and Race by Naben Ruthnum, Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong, Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Somewhere between Minor Feelings and Know My Name, I had a conversation where I mentioned how I’d read a picture book at the library sometime around first or second grade that talked about the Chinese head tax (my memory produced the number $500, which, surprisingly, proved accurate, and if that doesn’t strike you as a large sum, think about inflation: using the Bank of Canada inflation calculator going back as far as they are able (1914) to now, that $500 would amount to $11,575 now) and the dangerous work Chinese labourers did for railroad construction. Someone asked what the Chinese head tax was, which got me thinking whether I’d learned anything about it in school, whether I’d encountered this information at all after that picture book, which I’ve not been able to find since; there’s a lot we don’t learn in Canadian history classes, isn’t there?

Shortly after that conversation, the shooting in Atlanta. Shortly before that, Half Baked Harvest’s inauthentic pho incident and why it matters (I’ve also discussed food and cultural appropriation before here, but Rebecca Du has presented the case very thoroughly, including information about what the issue is here, how Teagan could’ve handled it better, and what reparations might look like, as well as links to more resources, so I’d urge you to check out the article on Medium). “This is an American problem”, you might think: nope, Canada’s not immune.

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You Have the Right to Remain Fat

Virgie TovarThere are just short of 128 pages of text that I’d like to quote in this post, but I’ll have to make do with a select few tidbits from the entire selection. It’s worth noting though, that in just over 100 small pages with You Have the Right to Remain Fat, Tovar has made what I felt to be quite a compelling argument against diet culture & fatphobia, arguing that its continued existence in the form of popular health guides (e.g. healthy is the new thin) seeps through every pore of our existence and submits every woman it touches to its unhealthy system of size discrimination, regardless of where along the spectrum you fit in (in fact every person, as it’s not just women participating in the propagation of and living with fatphobia). I would recommend You Have the Right to Remain Fat to any and everyone. Go read it. Now. We have two physical copies and one electronic book (available via hoopla), so there’s no excuse not to either borrow it or put yourself on  hold immediately. So let’s get into some of what makes this slim volume such a pithy and convincing text on why we as a collective should stop judging people by the size of their bodies, including ourselves.

If I were to ask you whether you’ve been affected in any way throughout your life by fatphobia, what would your answer be? If you identify as, or have been categorized in some point in your life by other people as, belonging to the side of the spectrum that fatphobia puts down and shames – i.e. if you’re fat – you might have precious little difficulty coming up with instances when being anything more than what is deemed thin enough (is it ever enough?) has played a part in influencing your life in ways both obvious and more insidious. For those on the other side of the spectrum – thin or even just not-fat – would you say you’ve been touched by fatphobia? At first glance, it might not be immediately obvious, but the unfortunate fact of the matter is that body size monitoring, whether it’s becoming thin or staying thin, affects everyone, not just those on the fat side side. Unless you’ve gotten to this point completely unaware of body size discrimination and the values we as a society ascribe to different body sizes (in which case… I don’t know whether to be happy for you because you’ve been so fortunate/live somewhere where body size discrimination doesn’t exist (also where you at?) or to ask if you’ve buried your head in the sand), and even if you’re unaware of how body discrimination has affected you throughout your life thus far (and will probably continue to do so in the future), this is a bias that is as pervasive in popular media and in lived realities as it is damaging for everyone involved.

Timely in the wake of diet culture, You Have the Right to Remain Fat will incense you and give you some hefty chunks of food for thought that will make you re-evaluate your existing biases and our societal norms.

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