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Fat Activism in Canada

Dr. Jenny Ellison, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Jenny Ellison, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Yesterday’s opening plenary talk at the 4th Canadian Obesity Student Meeting, hosted by the Canadian Obesity Network’s Students and New Professionals (CON-SNP) network, was given by Dr. Jenny Ellison from the  Frost Centre for Canadian & Indigenous Studies at Trent University, on the history of fat activism in Canada.

In her talk, Ellison, presented a broad historical overview of how fat stigma and messaging around fat has evolved over the years.

From the early “Christian” view of obesity as a deadly sin, moral failing and lack of will power and the beginning of the obsession with body shape and size in the early half of the 20th century to the growing movement of fat acceptance and understanding of the negative consequences of fat stigma and fat politics for larger people.

She concluded with an overview of how informal networks within the fat activist movement are self-organising online sharing a wide range of information from finding physicians to identifying safe spaces where they can interact.

Ellison also complimented the Canadian Obesity Network on taking a strong stance against weight stigma and discrimination, thus opening up the possibility for a different future.

A recent paper by Ellison on this subject is available here.

Waterloo, ON


  1. Thank you for the link to her article. I like her “voice.” She is a good writer.

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  2. Just wanted to share this sad incident that happened to me.
    Nearly attacked just for being overweight.
    On Friday March 4, 2016 at 4 pm I was going to St Laurent Shopping Mall , I was at Quill & Donald bus stop . Yes I am overweight but I never insult People I mind my own business and I always say excuse me please . Well there I was standing waiting for my bus just a little away from the bus stop when this muscular man approaches me and says very loudly get the f ***k out of my way you fat lard ass , I was shocked and moved out the way saying what did I do he replied you are in the f*** ing way walked to the corner store then came back to threaten me with violence , I thought the man was going to attack me he said I said something which I replied sir I did not say anything no need for this just back off I had my hands up ready to defend myself if I had to not wanting a fight as my feet are swollen something awful I have difficulty walking and this ignorant subhuman bully had bad intentions towards me I am 50 no longer in my 20s I do not treat people in this manner . When I was younger I was very strong but always treated People with respect. I think it was my words that diffused the situation my hands where up I was ready to defend myself if I had to, but my legs are in such pain this muscular sub human would have probably killed me just for being overweight . And thankfully this ignorant bully walked away. a young girl came running to my aid and asked if I was okay she said she was horrified by the language this man had used. I told her I had come to Canada from a violent country and thought Canadians where nice People , I had never seen this Man in my life or done anything to him . Simply saying excuse me would have been okay I gladly move out your way . I told her in my country we would just shoot such a low life but sadly laws are different here. Well I am nice she said . I was nervous so I changed the subject talked about travelling instead I also told the Girl about my feet and the pain I was in she was sympathetic an angel in this awful situation she stayed by my side until the bus arrived and I was so shaken I forgot to say thank you. To all ignorant bullies be careful who you pick on one day you will pick on the wrong person and you will meet your painful karma oh I hope so. And not everybody who is fat is fat out of laziness some folk have painful legs or health issues . If you want to pick on someone go to a boxing club I am sure many excellent boxers will accommodate you for being such a COWARD.

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