Antifat Antiblackness: A Timeline

Fat Black folks experience the harms of anti-Blackness as anti-fatness, with profound psychological and health implications, including under service by healthcare professionals. Several studies highlight that Black people struggling with eating disorders are less likely to be diagnosed, referred, and treated, despite similar or identical presentations to their white counterparts. These dangerous effects are compounded for Fat Black people with eating disorders, as fat people often die from being misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. These troubling trends illustrate an urgent need for action.

Several factors contribute to the multi-layered marginalization of Fat Black people. This includes the pervasiveness of antifatness rooted in anti-Blackness, slavery and colonialism, and the historical contexts of psychological diagnosis and health perpetuated in the present. Mental health professionals play a vital role in interrogating the contexts marginalizing our bodies and beings, dismantling the structures perpetuating violence against Black bodies, and facilitating healing relationships rooted in liberation.

In this talk, we will review give a timeline to “antifatness as antiblackness” — from the Enlightenment Era, to the War on Drugs (and Ob*sity), to today. Participants should expect to engage Sabrina Strings’s Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia and Da’Shaun Harrison’s Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness, as well as several other integral works in fat, black, and fat black studies. This talk explores how eating disorders and antifatness are based in antiblackness and white supremacy by, in part, creating exclusive healthcare practices.