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A publication of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association

Fall 2009

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Letters

Obesity cover art perpetuates stereotypes

UB Today welcomes letters from readers commenting on its stories and content. Please include picture of mailbox your UB degree and the year it was received, along with a daytime telephone for verification purposes. Letters are subject to editing and may be condensed for length. Send mail to
ub-alumni@buffalo.edu

I am a 1990 graduate of the University Honors Program with degrees in English and management. UB trained me to be a critical thinker, and I’m a proud alumna.

Imagine my dismay, then, when I saw the cover of your winter 2009 issue. I am an associate professor of English at Davidson College, where my work is based in gender studies and disability studies. While I am sure the work being done to uncover the causes of childhood obesity at UB is worthy, I found the art accompanying the story—particularly on the cover—extremely problematic, both “ableist” (perpetuating disability stereotype) and sexist.


In our society, in popular representation, the obese person is often stereotyped as clownish and clumsy. They are seen as out of control in their appetites and “piggish.”


Your cover art perpetuates these stereotypes, countering the good work of the scientists profiled. How can the public be expected not to vilify the obese person, and to see obesity as a more complex medical and social issue, when art such as this perpetuates a view of the obese as clownish and overstuffed? This caricature denies complexity to body identity.

Ann Fox,
BA ’90 & BS ’90
Davidson, NC

Illustration provokes painful memories

One of my clearest memories from childhood are those involving the schoolyard bullies as they taunted and harassed the other children—especially the “fat” kids. I remember the mean-spirited laughs, the ridiculous songs and chants, and the humiliating “fat” caricatures they drew and then posted for all to see.


All of these memories came flooding back to me when I received the winter 2009 issue of UB Today. On the cover I saw a “fat” caricature so offensive, I could hardly breathe—and this coming from an academic institution?


By the way, I do power yoga, cardio workout and dance lessons at least three times a week. I love hiking. I haven’t eaten fast food in years, and I don’t even own a TV. However, I am considered overweight. The picture on your latest cover tells me that my lifestyle choices make no difference at all because “fat” makes you not human at all—just a caricature of a person—sad, plopped in front of the television, and stuffed with pizza and donuts.

Yasmin Alexander,
MLS ’07
Brooklyn, NY

UB in the News

How Donald Trump ruined the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum for actual Civil Rights leaders

An article in Newsweek about the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History, and the controversy over plans by President Trump to attend the ceremony, interviews Victoria Wolcott, professor and chair of history, who said Trump?s presence is problematic given his inability to denounce white supremacists in the wake of Charlottesville.

New downtown home for Jacobs School opens

The Buffalo News quoted UB President Satish K. Tripathi on the opening of the new Jacobs School building. "The world-class design was a sight to behold. But to gaze upon the magnificent finished product is to fully appreciate it for the breathtaking building it is."

Gum infections may increase risk for digestive tract sores

A Reuters article about a study that showed that gum infections may increase people?s risk for sores in the digestive tract that can lead to stomach cancer quotes Jean Wactawski-Wende , dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

More of UB in the News