BSP Podcast: Michael Greer on Oscillating Between Fatness & Thinness

podcast update

This episode of the BSP Podcast sees Michael Greer presenting a paper from our 2022 annual conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology II’.

Season 6 episode 147: 27 May 2024

Season 6 continues with another presentation from our 2022 annual conference, Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Spatiality. This episode features a presentation from Michael Greer, The Graduate Center, CUNY.

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Michael L. J. Greer
‘On Oscillating Between Fatness and Thinness in a Fatphobic World: Weight-Cycling, Apprehensive Perception, and the Body You Might Have’

Content note: diet culture, eating disorders, fatphobia. Diets ostensibly function as reactions against and prophylaxis from “excess” body weight. However, diets rarely affect long term weight-loss. “Weight-cycling” (sometimes called “yo-yo dieting”) describes the phenomenon of losing weight and gaining it (and often more) back in repetitive cycles as a result of dieting behavior(s). The paradigmatic experience of what I call being a “weight-cycler” is therefore that of oscillation between being fat and being relatively thin(ner) in a fatphobic society. A phenomenological analysis of this experience of weight-cycling is missing from the interdisciplinary literature of Fat Studies. Using tools developed within the canon of critical phenomenology, which has historical roots in Merleau-Pontian, Sartrean, and Beauvoirian existential phenomenology, I fill this gap. Weight-cyclers commonly experience disordered relationships with their own bodies and the things that sustain it: food and exercise. I examine weight-cyclers’ troubled relationships with food, exercise, and their bodies, alongside their oscillation between different body-sizes, to argue that the phenomenology of the weight-cycler creates the conditions for an “apprehensive perception” towards the futurity of their own embodied selves. This feeds into further weight-cycling. I contend that part of the weight-cycler’s difficulty is that they focus on the body they “might have” instead of the body as lived.

Biography: I am a white cis-woman PhD student in Philosophy at CUNY. Broadly speaking, I work in moral and social philosophy. More narrowly, my projects typically involve questions at the intersections of feminist philosophy, existential phenomenology, bioethics, social epistemology, philosophy of language, and fat studies.

Further Information:

This recording is taken from our Annual UK Conference 2022: Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Sociality (Exeter, UK / Hybrid) with the University of Exeter. Sponsored by the Wellcome Centre, Egenis, and the Shame and Medicine project. For the conference our speakers either presented in person at Exeter or remotely to people online and in-room, and the podcast episodes are recorded from the live broadcast feeds.

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?