Monday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used an opportunity being interviewed on Anderson Cooper 360 to diagnose Donald Trump as ‘morbidly obese,’ suggesting it was a risk factor in his decision to take hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 preventative treatment. Pelosi’s comments mirror patterns of anti-fatness from liberals and leftists in the U.S.—partially through, as Pelosi attempts to do here, using fatness as an insult, or a stand-in indicator of a person’s character. It also echoes histories of the medicalization of fat embodiment as an innately ‘unhealthy’ status, which has seen a revitalization during the pandemic.
For example, following trends of displacing blame for the impacts of the Coronavirus on vulnerable communities, the New York Times published a story headlined “Obesity Linked to Severe Coronavirus Disease, Especially for Younger Patients” on April 17th. This story comes on the heels of additional data that reveals deaths from the virus to also lie disproportionately in Black communities, and that the Navajo nation has the highest per capita infection rate. Cutting across all these communities, disabled activists have warned of eugenicist metrics being engaged to determine who receives care when hospitals are pushed to triage model by a lack of appropriate response from the U.S. government. In this panel, fat activists, artists and intellectuals will surface the interconnected legacies of fat stigma, anti-Blackness and settler colonialism, as they appear in the contemporary pandemic.
moderated by Sonalee Rashatwar