Nordic Feminist Fat Studies
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Is there room for fat feminist critique in Nordic feminism? This has been a burning question – sometimes a source of frustration – for Nordic fat activists and Nordic fat feminist researchers alike. In Denmark, for example, fat exclusion has been debated over the last year in the oldest feminist organization Dansk Kvindesamfund. For March 8th 2021 the organization had collaborated with fashion brand Munte on producing a T-shirt. This collaboration was met with criticism, for the fact that it was only produced in ‘straight sizes’, thus limiting access to participation further. Following this critique, Dansk Kvindesamfund has worked with a number of different fat activists on improving their practices, and on educating their members on fat feminist issues. This process is illustrative of the systemic exclusion, which fat feminism faces in the current Nordic feminist climate:
Firstly, feminism has become fashionable – so the lure of being integrated into the world of mainstream femininity, is suddenly present for feminist activism in a way that it has not been perhaps since the 1970s. This places fat bodies, who are still largely excluded from access to normative femininity, in a precarious – if not (as in this case) outright excluded.
Secondly, while contemporary feminist activism and research to a large extent understands itself as intersectional and diverse, fatness is still rarely (if at all) considered a feminist issue or understood as a categorization that needs to be included in intersectional perspectives.
Thirdly, when critique is voiced – like so many minorities before them – fat feminists are tasked with educating and representing their ‘issues’ to the mainstream.
This panel proposes to present feminist fat studies to Nordic feminist researchers – and to challenge Nordic feminist research to integrate fatness into intersectional feminist perspectives in their research.
Hannele Harjunen, PhD in gender studies, works as a Senior Lecturer in gender Studies at the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Harjunen’s research focuses on gendered body norms, fat studies, and intersectionality. Her recent publications include a monograph Neoliberal Bodies and the Gendered Fat body (2017, Routledge) and articles in Feminism and Psychology, Feminist Theory and Fat Studies: Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society.
Lene Bull Christiansen is an associate professor at Cultural Encounters at Roskilde University, Denmark. Her main research areas are gender, culture, media, celebrity and fat studies. Lene is a founding member of the research centre for Gender, Power and Diversity at Roskilde University and of the Nordic Celebrity Studies Network. Currently she is the lead researcher on the research project Feminist Activism in Transition (FAT) at Roskilde University.