So a visiting prof at NYU, at the intersection of business and psychology and so not someone I'd ever heard of, tweeted the following: "Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth". This tweet has caused the internet to explode. It's unclear to me whether he meant applicants to the University of New Mexico, where he's otherwise a professor, or to NYU, although it's a safe bet he wants slender grad students nationwide.
In any case, I join the chorus: what the what? What is this man even talking about? It's offensive, yes, "fat-shaming," sure, and no doubt upsetting to many heavier academics. It probably does necessitate a bit of a dig into dude's role in admitting students - are ones he OK'd especially svelte?
It's problematic, then, but it's also bizarre. What would one thing have to do with the other? It's not like writing a dissertation is some kind of athletic feat for which physical condition would be relevant, and then there could be some kind of conversation about whether or not it's fat-shaming to suggest that those who weigh 600-plus pounds are unlikely to win triathlons. (I'm so far from doing so myself that I don't have any idea how those who win them are built.) It's not like PhD students are some caste akin to supermodels, known for our ability to meet narrow aesthetic specifications. To write a dissertation is to sit on your couch in your pajamas. There's no particular size requirement for that.
Anyway, a NYMag commenter has the winning response:
Technically, he isn't fat-shaming. Being on the Atkins Diet on a grad student salary in NY requires not only willpower, but the ability to create a budget and possibly write grant applications so as to fund your steak and salmon-filet habit.Indeed. What's grad school without pasta? Without bagels, ramen, or rice? And pizza! And free bread and cheese at receptions! Grad students who stopped eating carbs would stop eating, and stop dissertating as well.