Fat Talk: A Feminist Perspective

This is part of our Campus Spotlight on Appalachian State University.
This is part of our special feature, Me Who? The Audibility of a Social Movement.


Course Objective: This honors topics course will entail in depth study of fat talk and body snarking. The first half of the course will follow the textbook including student presentations that include chapter overviews and more in-depth presentation of a scientific study within the chapter. The first half of the semester will also focus on students completing their research papers that include a full draft in order to receive feedback from me, then followed by an improved draft for grading.  The second half of the semester will be devoted to students presenting their research papers to the class to teach fellow students about these controversial modern-day topics.  The papers and presentations should follow the paper rubric found in section #3 below.


Student Learning Outcomes: The purpose of this course is to take the contemporary social psychological phenomena of fat talk and body snarking to examine them through scientific and a feminist/political lens. The following include the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that students should acquire, rehearse, or master in this course:


  1. Gain more in-depth study of a variety of research and statistical methodologies as we work our way through the chapters
  2. Gain an appreciation for how science can be compiled to tell thematic stories of a cultural phenomena
  3. How to critically weigh both/all sides of a modern social/political controversy
  4. Reviewing history of a topic and how the 2+ sides evolved over time
  5. How to examine the ethical and social impact of a topic
  6. How to use google scholar to best obtain a comprehensive compilation of science
  7. How to research a topic and respond to specific prompts using a rubric
  8. How to use faculty feedback for scientific content and APA writing skills
  9. How to listen to and discuss controversy with others with respect (honor “safe-spaces”)
  10. Practice professional presentation skills on multiple occasions
  11. Practice oral response skills to questions in class discussion and for the final exam


Text: Martz, D. (2019). Fat Talk: A Feminist Perspective. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishers.

On reserve at the library, available for purchase at McFarland or Amazon, or available for purchase with a 25% discount directly from me ($30).


  1. Chapter Reflections


Students will be expected to submit a personal and thoughtful, 1-page, single-spaced reflection paper for the book preface and each of the nine book chapters by Monday 5:00 PM the week of those student presentations.  Students who are presenting will, thus, be able to assume that students have read the material in order to teach more in-depth scientific methodology from one study featured in the chapter.  This will also allow for “higher order” discussion. These 10 assignments will be turned in on ASULearn and will each count for 1-point for a total of 10% of your grade.



  1. Class Fat Talk Chapter Presentation


Each student will be assigned to lead the class in discussion for a portion of the book.

This presentation will be graded with the following rubric.


Fat Talk: Book Chapter Presentation Leadership

  1. Good chapter overview5 pt
  2. Chosen study: research methodology, statistics, results, and meaning presented thoroughly to teach fellow classmates 10 pt
  3. Professional/ captivating presentation style, provocative questions for fellow classmates, maintained interesting discussion 5 pt

Potential Total Points = 20


  1. Class Paper Rubric


Fat Talk: A Feminist Perspective Paper Criteria Rubric

  1. Birth, history, & modern-day status of controversy 5 pt
  2. Both/all sides covered fully and without bias 5 pt     
  3. What does the dogma/tradition say? Is there evidence for the dogma? 5 pt
  4. Ethics, morality, financial/social/environmental impact 3 pt
  5. What does the science say? Is there strong evidence for these opinions? 5 pt
  6. What data/information is missing? What would it take to get this? 5 pt
  7. Total APA Format (6th edition) -abstract, scholarly references, scholarly & Professional scientific writing style 2pt                    

Potential Total Points = 30




APA Subheaders are highly suggested for your paper

APA format precision is expected


Title Page


Title (Brief intro to follow foreshadowing paper)

History of Topic/Controversy

Birth & evolution

Side #1

Side #2

Side #3?

Modern Day Stance

Dogma/Tradition of Topic/Evidence for these Opinions

Impact of Topic

Ethics & Morality

Financial/Social/Environmental Impact

Science of Topic

What Don’t We Know?

What would it take to gather this information/science?





Student Projects Topic Possibilities- Each student will have a unique topic

  • Children separated from parents
  • Government supported contraception
  • Human generated climate change
  • Prison reform
  • Media treatment of women political candidates
  • Opioid prevention or treatment
  • Vaccines & autism
  • LGBT adoption rights
  • Gender identity & antidiscrimination laws
  • Women in combat
  • Transgender athletes & competition
  • Family leave in the workplace
  • Religious freedom act- can businesses deny services?
  • Gun rights vs. gun control
  • Minimum wage
  • Border security
  • Male circumcision
  • Late term abortion
  • Medicare for all citizens
  • Human euthanasia
  • Marital rape laws
  • Sex education in the schools
  • Antidepressant effectiveness
  • Legalization of cannabis
  • Planned Parenthood funding
  • Insurance and contraception coverage
  • Death penalty
  • Gender workplace diversity
  • Women leaders in clergy
  • Electoral College reform
  • Racial profiling
  • Homeschooling
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Impact of #MeToo


  1. Class Paper Presentation 

Paper Presentation

  1. Topic well researched and paper sections fully covered 10 pt
  1. Professional/ captivating presentation style 10 pt
  1. Student created provocative questions for fellow students & managed discussion well 10 pt

Potential Total Points = 30



  1. Group Oral Final Exam 

Students will submit questions to me by the last day of class about the Fat Talk Book and the Topics covered in class papers.  These questions will be meant to meta-analyze themes presented in the course.  Students will be invited to answer two questions one-by-one.  Each student is allowed one “pass” if that is not a preferred question.  If a student makes a “pass,” then that question is up for grabs by the student who requests it first.

This exam is not meant to spur competition.  It is intended to allow students to practice answering questions using a “real world” format, as opposed to how you have been trained in education to respond with essays or multiple-choice exams.  It is also an opportunity for the entire class to compile information shared throughout the semester to better understand themes and patterns for the topics that have been discussed.


Oral Final Exam

  1. Student was well-informed in question response 5 pt
  1. Student articulated response well 5 pt

Potential Total Points = 10








Due Dates

5:00 PM





Jan. 13th


Syllabus & Assignments


Book Preface & Fat Talk Overview


Jan 20st


How to research & write class paper

Paper Topic Preferences Due

In class paper research & consultation
Jan 27th


Preface Reflection Book Preface & Fat Talk Overview


Book Preface & Fat Talk Overview


Feb 3rd


Chapter 1 Reflection Ch. 1 Evolution FT (1st 11 pages):


Ch. 1 Why beauty is relevant? (last 11 pages):


Feb 10th


Chapter 2 Reflection Ch. 2 Culture of Fat Talk:


Ch. 3 When FT Got a Name:


Feb 17th


Chapter 3 & 4 Reflections &

Paper Draft for Feedback

Ch. 4 Consequences of Fat Talk:



Group Paper Feedback & Discussion
Feb 24th


Chapter 5 & 6 Reflections Ch. 5 Who are the Fat Talkers?


Ch. 6 Invasion of Snarking & Fat Stigma


March 2nd


Chapter 7 Reflection Ch. 6 Popular Culture & Politics:


Ch. 7 Other Women Like It, But I Don’t:


March 9th Spring Break – No Class Spring Break – No Class
March 16th


Chapter 8 & 9 Reflections & Final Paper for Grade Ch. 8 Feminism & Personal Effects  



Ch. 9 Feminine Targeting Feminine Enemies


March 23rd to

April 27th

Presentations Presentations


May 4th


Group Oral Final Exam Thursday May 7th @ 11:00




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