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Degrading bodies in pandemic times: politicizing cruelty during the COVID-19 and obesity crises

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-10-20, 07:59 authored by Lee F. Monaghan
Mass communications frame fatness and COVID-19 as a dual threat. This discourse furthers well-established tendencies to degrade bodies labelled overweight or obese, positioning them as deficient and requiring correction. Empirically, this article draws from an online US right-wing news media platform, Campus Reform, including readers’ comments (n ¼ 135) on an article denouncing professors working in fat studies during the COVID-19 lockdown. This status degradation ceremony—backed by ‘big money’ that funds campus culture wars—not only targeted fat people but also academic disciplines, expertise, universities and social justice agenda. Analytically, this study draws from ethnomethodology and literature on media and bodyweight, meddling or health fascism, weaponized stigma and the politics of cruelty. Going beyond the flesh and a particular case study, it also challenges the ways in which cruelty enacted towards those deemed fat (especially women) can spiral into corrosive nationalist discourse in pandemic times

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Journal of Communication Inquiry;

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SAGE

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peer-reviewed

Language

English

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