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Call for Articles on the Rhetoric of Fat Acceptance

The Rhetoric Society Quarterly (official journal of RSA, the Rhetoric Society of America) has put out a call for guest editors to create a special issue on the scholarly manifestation of fat acceptance and activism.

According to its website,

“RSA is the umbrella organization for scholars and teachers in every discipline who are interested in rhetoric, the art of effective communication.

RSA defines rhetoric quite broadly as the study of rhetorical theories, praxes, criticism, and pedagogies that help us to understand (1) how discourses construct our perceptions of the world around us, including people, texts, institutions, and cultures, (2) how we may employ rhetorical theories and tactics to facilitate critical thinking as we analyze the world around us via reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and (3) how rhetorical theories and tactics may help us compose our own texts in ways that persuade our audiences to agree or, at least, to give us a fair hearing.”

The journal is seeking critical and fat-positive essay proposals on the rhetorical intersections within Fat Studies.

The collection, titled “The Rhetorics of Fat Stigma and Fat Acceptance”, will explore and identify the rhetorical constructions of both stigma and pride.

According to the call, the following topics would be ideal for this collection (but other scholarly explorations of rhetoric and fat studies are welcome):

* Fat and health care
* Narrative and fat
* Rhetoric, fat and resistance
* Fat and public information campaigns
* Fat and rhetorical constructions of activism
* Fat acceptance and language
* Visual rhetoric and fat
* Rhetoric, fat and sex/sexuality/sexual identity/ gender
* Demographic representations of fat (race/ethnicity/socio-economic class)

Proposals should be 250-500 words and be sent to Lonie McMichael ( or Erec Smith ( by December 15th, 2012.

It would be great to see contributions from Canada for this issue – I am sure some of my readers would be eager to contribute.

Edmonton, Alberta

Hat tip to Pamela Brett-MacLean for passing this on.


  1. If you think this publication is worthy, it would be great if you had time to do a piece on the uses and limits of HAES rhetoric in clinical practice.

    In the grand blog world, I can name no more hotly discussed practitioner than you. Your multi-part series on bariatric surgery considerations, pro and con, for example, led people from all kinds of mindsets to think harder and longer than just about any other contribution on this subject to the marketplace of ideas. Prior to that series, many in the HAES world rejected the use of bariatric surgery under any circumstances, but your series gave them cause to moderate their views in certain instances. On the other hand, I would guess that series was a stark reality check for many clinical practitioners who had been too quick to recommend bariatric surgery when HAES would have been the more conservative and measured option for a good number of their patients.

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  2. Thanks Debra for the kind words. Don’t have the time to write this article myself but I sure hope people will contribute…

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  3. Thanks, Dr. Sharma, for passing along this call for papers. To say that I am thrilled by RSA’s decision to devote an entire issue to this topic would be an understatement.

    A full issue on the “Rhetoric of Fat Stigma and Fat Acceptance” exceeds my wildest fantasies as a formal (academic) scholar of rhetorical theory, a long-time survivor of fat stigma, a fat acceptance activist, an RN who discovered that a significant majority of my professional colleagues, mentors, professors, and potential employers felt morally justified (indeed felt morally obligated to shed light on the unhealthiness of my body size so as to avoid enabling my so-called DENIAL) when they (openly and in front of peers) questioned and doubted my ability to provide quality nursing care as an obese nurse, frequently reminded me of the poor role modeling—and, hence, harm I would cause—I would offer patients, criticized my motives and desires for wanting to be an RN while remaining unwilling to make my own health a priority…

    Finally, I now walk around in a thin body that is no more professionally capable than before, and probably not much healthier. However, my current physical size (trim with narrow hips and small breasts) demonstrates a surface appearance which mirrors the desired illusion (for public consumption) of a highly competent, well-qualified RN who, it is assumed, can move quickly and efficiently from patient to patient without drawing undo attention to herself and without standing out (as a minor player) in the grand scheme that is the work of ACTUAL medicine.

    It will be a fascinating assignment for me if I decide to write and submit a paper.

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