Random Wonderfulness
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Pretty Close to An Academic’s Best Week Ever

While I’ll likely never have a #BestWeekEver like Sherri Shepherd did in January (I’m still laughing), it’s been a big couple of weeks around here. Here are some of the high points.

Participated in BU Commencement 2013

Emily Grad 1On May 18, I participated in the commencement ceremonies for Boston University’s Metropolitan College, surrounded by the newest Gastronomy graduates, as well as hundreds of students who have completed undergraduate and graduate degrees while working full or part time and raising families. I’m currently enrolled in my final course (see more info below) and will officially receive my MLA in Gastronomy in September.

Published First Peer Reviewed Paper

Drop Dead DivaOn May 22, my first peer reviewed paper, “Food and Fashion: Exploring Fat Female Identity in Drop Dead Diva,” was published online in Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society in a special issue on visual representations of fat and fatness. In this paper, I explore the program’s progressive path to size acceptance that redefines body scripts, normalizing and embracing the fat female body.

Published Essay on Bitch Flicks

Sex and the CityOn May 27, my essay, Sex and the City 2: Hardcore Orientalism in the Desert of Abu Dhabi, was published as part of Travel Film Week on Bitch Flicks, a website dedicated to viewing films and the entertainment industry through a feminist lens. For Bitch Flicks I’ve also written “Gender, Family, and Globalization in Eat Drink Man Woman and “Trophy Kitchens in Two Nancy Meyers’ Films, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated.

Awarded Healthcare Blog Top 20

Healthcare Blog Top 20On May 28, this blog made the Healthcare Blog Top 20 by Excite.com Healthcare Degree website, which provides resources for online healthcare education. Online learning opportunities draw more and more attention, and I have been fortunate to take some truly first rate online and blended courses while part of the Gastronomy program. My alma mater, UC Berkeley, also offers a new online MPH program.

Began Final Gastronomy Course

Fat FatOn May 22, I began my final course in the Gastronomy program as part of Boston University’s summer session. Titled “The Big Fat Fat Controversy,” this course taught by Dr. Karen Pepper will explore fat in all its forms, from the dietary to the corporeal. I hope that it will provide me an opportunity to marry my studies of public health and gastronomy in an interdisciplinary way.

Here is some of what we’ll be reading:

9 Comments

  1. Adele Hite, MPH RD says

    Reading Why Calories Count and Why We Get Fat in the same semester should prove head-spinning! Enjoy.

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    • emilycontois says

      Thanks, Adele! It’s true that I’m struggling to reconcile the differences. Hopefully I can compose a few paragraphs of clarity here at some point. Have a wonderful summer!

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      • Adele Hite, MPH RD says

        And congratulations on your nearly perfect day!

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      • Adele Hite, MPH RD says

        Ooops–I meant week. And I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Nestle and Taubes–and the class in general.

        The calories in/calories out vs. “it’s not just the calories” debate is probably one of the longest running ones in nutrition. Did you see Taubes recent BMJ editorial on this? Some interesting history behind it.

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      • Adele Hite, MPH RD says

        Hmm–good question. I’m actually just reading Why We Get Fat myself (I read Good Calories, Bad Calories & thought I had done my time, but I’ve been told otherwise). It seems a little more nuanced than CGBC, but that might be my imagination. I’d be interested to hear how you think Nestle & Taubes compare/contrast to Julie Guthman’s book, Weighing In.

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      • emilycontois says

        From the way Taubes frames ‘Why We Get Fat,’ it’s supposed to be the popular press read on the same ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ science, just a bit easier to, er, digest as a reader. I own GCBC, but just never got around to reading it.

        ‘Weighing In’ provided so much food for thought for me; I’m still chewing on it. I read it before ASFS last summer when I was on a panel with Julie. She raises some really important points and is just as controversial/anti-established-ideas as Taubes, but seems to have gotten less attention, maybe because she focuses more on additional pieces of the puzzle (culture/systems/politics/labor), but I find her arguments more interesting and layered. I would love to teach ‘Weighing In’ to nutrition or public health students. Even if it sparks some tricky conversations, it would require such incredible critical thinking from students accustomed to thinking a particular way.

        I was honestly disappointed that ‘Why Calories Counts’ didn’t more pointedly take on any of the arguments that Julie puts forth about the truly complex reasons that we are fat, thin, and in-between.

        What about you? What are your thoughts on the conversation between the work of these authors and their opposing points of view?

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      • Adele Hite, MPH RD says

        Like you, I found Julie’s book to be much more nuanced on the topic of obesity and how to address it than anything I’ve read so far, but I did have to take a deep breath every time I read “healthy diet” (as if we know what that means). I do understand that Julie can’t be an expert in all aspects of this issue, any more than Gary can. I thought if I could convince Julie to read Gary’s book and vice versa, the conversations around obesity would become a lot more interesting and fruitful. (I’ve been told that Gary does have a copy of Weighing In and he promises to read it.)

        As for Marion Nestle, as far as I am concerned, she deals primarily in superficialities. Although she is best known for her take on “food politics,” I think it is rather disingenuous of her to position herself as if she has has nothing to do with the politicking. She has no formal background in nutrition; she is self-taught, from having to teach a course in Nutrition. This wouldn’t be a problem except that she is also deeply invested in supporting the status quo thinking around nutrition and health because she helped to create it. As editor of the 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health, she was central to the “creation of consensus” (a phrase that should never be used in reference to science, but there it is) regarding the science that ostensibly supports the USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines. Although there had been a decade of controversy surrounding the early recommendations and leading up the report (and little new science), after her editorship and its publication, she herself declared that “the scientific advice is widely agreed upon [What does that even mean? Shouldn’t scientific advice be “proven” rather than “agreed upon”?] and is no longer an issue of contention.” Well, maybe if you say it enough times, it will actually be true. My take on her book is pretty well summarized here: http://wp.me/p29Lnc-4o

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