Volume 7, Issue 3 - June 2012Print | Email

“I’m so fat!”: The negative outcomes of Fat Talk

photo - Arroyo_article_pic_1How often have you looked in the mirror and thought to yourself that you look fat? Your stomach wasn’t flat enough, your butt was too big, you needed to go on a diet. Expressing comments like these to others is known as fat talk. Fat talk refers to the ritualistic conversations about their own and others’ bodies (e.g., “I’m so fat!” “No you’re not, I’m the one who is fat!”). Such comments are often negative in nature, with the specific tone and content of fat talk messages perpetuating negative self-perceptions (e.g., “I’m so fat,” “My ass is huge!”). Examples of fat talk included comments about what eating and exercise habits should be, fears of becoming overweight, perception of one’s own weight and shape, and voiced comparisons with other people in these areas. Fat talk is a normative practice among women, but men are also exposed to and participate in conversations about weight and appearance.
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Cross Current

Forgetting Racial Injustice in Press Coverage of President Obama’s Inauguration

photo - Hoerl_article_pic_2Was Barack Obama’s Presidential election a sign of Martin Luther King’s “dream” coming true?  The national press led us to believe so. During the days leading up to the presidential inauguration, national broadcast and print journalism repeatedly underscored the importance of Obama’s election through references to King and his 1963 speech at the March on Washington. Reporters quoted public officials, citizens, and former civil rights activists who described Obama’s election as the “fulfillment,” “embodiment,” “culmination,” and “validation” of King’s dream. To some extent, this makes sense. The inauguration took place the day after Martin Luther King Day, and Obama delivered a pre-inauguration address in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the same location where King delivered his 1963 speech.

More than drawing attention to the time and location of the inaugural celebration, however, these references to King invited audiences to understand the Obama presidency as the culmination of the civil rights struggle. Former civil rights activist Walter Fauntroy told reporters on NBC’s Dateline, “Martin Luther King's dream stated 40 years ago we, as a people, are going to get to the promised land. . . .  That dream came true on November 4th, 2008.” CNN reported that two thirds of American-Africans now believed that King’s dream has been fulfilled, and that this proportion had doubled during the presidential campaign. Another vivid example is a 114 page historical retrospective magazine entitled Obama: The Dream Fulfilled which chronicles Obama’s inauguration in the context of the “hard struggle for equality in the United States.” The magazine opens with the statement that, “it’s clear that the Dream of Dr. King has come a long way. While bigotry and ignorance may still exist, America has now, more than ever before, perhaps faster than anyone thought, fulfilled its promise as the land of opportunity.”

Taken altogether, the wide variety of news reports that connected Obama to King’s legacy suggests the traumatic legacy of racial injustice in the United States has been overcome. I argue that this coverage constructs a narrative of racial transcendence that obscures the racial injustices that persisted after the civil rights era of black activism. Reports and commentary characterizing Obama’s election as the realization of King’s dream were complemented by comments that advanced a post-racial understanding of Obama’s success. According to post-racial logic, advancements made by individual black Americans are evidence of progress toward racial justice. By extension, Obama’s election signaled that African-Americans had opportunities for economic and political achievement.


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Related Links

White House blog 

President Obama's Inaugural address:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/inaugural-address 

Word Cloud analysis 

President Obama's Inaugural address:  http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/tag_clouds_of_obamas_inaugural_speech_compared_to_bushs.php 

Popular press critiques of President Obama's Inaugural address 

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/21/nation/na-inaug-literati21 

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0109/17717.html 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/24/barack-obama-inauguration-speech-presidency-president-review-jonathan-raban 

http://www.usnews.com/news/obama/articles/2009/01/20/barack-obamas-inauguration-is-one-for-the-history-books 

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/white-house/obamas-inauguration-speech-fir.html 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/21/obamas-inaugural-address_n_159713.html 


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Using the Classroom Community to Teach Communication Privacy

photo - Nodulman_article_pic_1Talking about private information is a difficult process. Most likely we all know someone who tells us TMI (too much information), and it makes us cringe! Other times we may sense that something is bothering someone, but s/he is reluctant to discuss the issue with us.The sharing of private information offers positive benefits to individuals and relationships, such as bringing people closer within a relationship; however, navigating the tensions between privacy and disclosure can be difficult to manage. Sandra Petronio’s theory, communication privacy management, explains how and why individuals manage their private disclosures.

Managing the boundaries and tensions inherent during sharing private information is an important skill for students to learn. In this assignment, students use the popular website Postsecret.com to apply the principles of communication privacy management theory. Postsecret.com is self-described as a community art project and receives four million hits per month. The site displays handmade postcards containing anonymous secrets that people from across the world mail into the site. Each week the site’s creator, Frank Warren, posts 20 secrets on the blog that range in topic from silly to serious. In addition to the website, there are five bestselling PostSecret books and Frank Warren speaks at numerous college campuses every year (see the PostSecret Community website).

This activity combines this popular website with college students’ love for the Internet, and course content on sharing private information. By taking part in this activity, students practice sharing private information and responding to peers’ disclosures. This activity also provides an opportunity for students to use creative expression, which is helpful for visual and kinesthetic learners.


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The Political, Cultural, and Economic Assault on Higher Education

photo - Foust_article_pic_1The Great Recession was initiated by the development of complex financial schemes that failed when the housing bubble burst. Yet, its impacts have reverberated to several other spheres of public life.
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Experiential Degradation: It’s Not Just the Environment that’s in Danger

photo - Senda-Cook_article_pic_Zion_CanyonIf you’ve ever been hiking and encountered a piece of trash, you’ve probably felt what I call experiential degradation. Experiential degradation happens when someone perceives that they have lost an expected experience.
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Who Will Survive? Diversity and Team Dynamics

image - Oetzel/McDermott_article_image_1The host of the reality television show Survivor started the 2012 season by announcing that the competition would team nine women against nine men.  In the episode with the merging of the two teams, six women and six men remained.
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How Audiences Use Social Media to Navigate Crisis Information

image - Austin_article_2_pic_2 During crises, social media provide vehicles for information creation and sharing, which often inflame already complex crisis situations.  Search for British Petroleum’s (BP’s) Twitter site to see how BP communicated about the Gulf oil spill, and you might stumble across the satirical Twitter account @BPGlobalPR, labeled as BP Public Relations criticizing BP’s handling of the Gulf oil spill.  
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When Praise is a Problem – Between Teachers and Parents

image - Pillet-Shore_article_image_1When interacting with another person, can the act of praising ever actually pose a problem? I have found that the answer to this question is ‘yes’, particularly during one kind of interaction – the parent-teacher conference.
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Reading the Hidden Scripts: Three Keys to Understanding What’s Really Going On

photo - Mease_article_pic_1Communication studies spans a wide variety of methods and objects of study, ranging from survey results that we analyze using computers to observation and interviews that take hundreds or even thousands of hours, and interpersonal relationships to mass media.
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Home Page | “I’m so fat!”: The negative outcomes of Fat Talk | Forgetting Racial Injustice in Press Coverage of President Obama’s Inauguration | Related Links | Using the Classroom Community to Teach Communication Privacy | The Political, Cultural, and Economic Assault on Higher Education  | Experiential Degradation: It’s Not Just the Environment that’s in Danger | Who Will Survive? Diversity and Team Dynamics | How Audiences Use Social Media to Navigate Crisis Information | When Praise is a Problem – Between Teachers and Parents | Reading the Hidden Scripts: Three Keys to Understanding What’s Really Going On 
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