Implications of fat phobia topic of UC, Irvine professor’s virtual talk

FREDONIA– An upcoming lecture hosted by the State University of New York at Fredonia’s Ethnic and Gender Studies program will focus on fat phobia as it specifically relates to Black women. The Zoom lecture will be led by University of California, Irvine Department of Sociology Associate Professor Sabrina Strings on Wednesday, March 17, at 3 p.m.

Dr. Strings’ presentation, “Fat Phobia as Misogynoir: Gender, Race and Weight Stigma,” is free and can be viewed by registering at the online link: https://fredonia-edu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEqd-murzIvEtzjpF6MCa13quxn5W7jzF2l

Strings is the author of “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia,” which received the 2020 Body and Embodiment Best Publication Award and an Honorable Mention in the 2020 Sociology of Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award competition from the American Sociological Association.

Misogynoir refers to the specific hatred, dislike, distrust and prejudice directed toward Black women.

Both topics, Dr. Hildebrand noted, are drawing considerable attention from students at Fredonia as well as in the scholarly arena – notably in gender and ethnic studies, history, sociology and psychology programs – and from additional audiences through venues such as NPR and The New York Times. In an NPR interview, Strings discussed the impact of fab phobia specifically on a group of Black women who were HIV positive. They refused medication because they felt pressure to remain thin, citing weight gain as a possible side effect.

Amid the coronavirus and racial tensions dividing the nation, a virtual lecture by Dr. Sabrina Strings represents an opportunity to bring the community and campus together for a discussion about fat phobia and social justice activism, noted Department of History Associate Professor Jennifer Hildebrand.

“Strings has mastered the ability to communicate complex and difficult subjects with audiences of all backgrounds, which has helped her to make a significant impact as a scholar activist who is educating for change,” Hildebrand said.

Strings’ work appeals to both academic and popular audiences, Hildebrandt added, because it is highly accessible and because she applies the theoretical frameworks of academia to “hot-button” discussions about RuPaul’s “Drag Race” television series, American singer Lizzo and, most recently, the important intersection of body type and the impact of COVID-19.

The lecture, hosted by the Ethnic and Gender Studies program, with funding from the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund of the Fredonia College Foundation, serves as a follow-up to “The Future of Inclusion: Innovating in a Post-COVID World” virtual talk Black trans activist Tiq Milan presented to Fredonia in 2020.