Challenging 'Regimes of Truth' around the Body: Fatness, Freedom and Health(ism)

  • Kaila Bonnell, Health, Outdoor and Physical Education, UBC and Lindsey Nkem, Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, UBC
    Coach House, Green College, UBC and livestreamed

    Monday, April 4, 8-9pm
    in the series
    Green College Resident Members' Series
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    Bodies. Bodies of different shapes, sizes, and colour exist, yet a dominant narrative regarding what a healthy/fit body should look like remains. Parents, friends, teachers, websites, food labels, doctors and government agencies all seem to know how to sculpt different bodies into looking an ideal weight. The politics, history and myths around weight science have allowed much of Western society to glorify thinness while fat bodies became synonymous with individual and moral failures (such as, lack of exercise, overconsumption of ‘junk food,' stupidity, laziness, lack of self-discipline, unwillingness to conform). Research related to the health outcomes of a person’s weight, or body, has played a major role in social categorizations and in people’s understanding of their worth, and their (in)ability to move through society. The social construction of fatness as being morally wrong has allowed for categorization, division and marginalization to exist along the lines (and intersections) of class, race, body size and more. Within this talk, Kaila and Lindsey will deconstruct the reasons why weight is an inaccurate measure of health, and challenge healthist values in relation to fat bodies, wherein people who are fat need to earn their rights, moral status, and freedom by demonstrating that they are dedicated to their personal health. Different social justice movements that have helped advance fat acceptance and liberation will be reviewed and contrasted.


    Kaila Bonnell (she/her) has a bachelor’s degree in physical and health education, and is currently completing her master’s degree in health, outdoor and physical education at UBC. She is interested in the way physical and health educators find space for body size and ethnic diversity within their teaching. She stives to be a socially critical teacher who understands health as being messy, complicated and shaped within a context broader than the individual. Kaila also conducts research related to public pedagogies, parents and sexuality education, and previously conducted research related to experiences of access to physical activity for people living with physical disabilities. Finally, Kaila is the co-founder of an online magazine that collaborates with researchers from different backgrounds, and fields, to share articles that address the broad array of interpretations people may have of health. Take a read at:


    Lindsey Nkem is currently pursuing a PhD in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. An alumna of both the University of Edinburgh and King's College London, Lindsey has focused her research on the nuances of identity and being important to Black womanhood, and the possibilities for decoloniality in international development work. Currently, she is looking to further explore how Black communities orient themselves in ways that speak to the importance of envisioning to achieving liberation.

    While either working or studying, Lindsey had remained committed to applying her knowledge and expertise to work that supports people in navigating their lived realities. Previously, she worked as a project coordinator supporting youth and civil society organisations in advocating for the reform of discriminatory colonial laws, platforming young people in developing social action projects to address community challenges, and coordinating the oldest essay writing competition for school-aged people. Lindsey has also worked to deliver seminars and workshops teaching youth about international development, with the Government of Canada to champion new approaches to transparency and good governance, with the BME liberation campaign and international student community at the University of Edinburgh to advocate for better holistic student services, with NGOs and politicial campaigns to develop communications strategies and research to achieve gender parity, and she has delivered initiatives on Black leadership and representation highlighting the validity of grounding one's leadership in our realities and experiences. She also sat on the organising committee for the Resisting Whiteness Conference held in Edinburgh in 2018 and 2019. At UBC, Lindsey currently supports the delivery of the Social Justice Institute's Noted Scholars Series as well as the Social Justice Institute's Graduate Student Association's panel series, Just Futures: Thinking through Abolition and Transformative Justice.

  • Unless otherwise noted, all of our lectures are free to attend and do not require registration.

April 4th, 2022 from  8:00 PM to  9:00 PM
Coach House
6201 Cecil Green Park Rd
Green College, UBC
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
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