2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Tori Thompson

University of Maryland
BMI and Identity: A Preliminary Analysis of Black women, BMI, and Physical Activity

Critics have long argued that the scientific establishment has worked to (re)produce and substantiate racism, with sport and physical activity being just one important site of this scientific marginalization. Scholars such as Stephen Gould (1996) and Ryan Hatch (2016) have challenged these racialized scientific myths and assertions that subjugate the black body, such as brain size and metabolic syndrome respectively. More recently, the racialized role of Body Mass Index (BMI) as an efficient tool for categorization based on fatness, is a scientific assertion that may ‘miseducate’ black women about their bodies, and thus their identities. Given that approximately 60% of black women are obese, the gendered and racialized implications of this metric are important to explore. In this presentation I discuss how BMI has impacted black women’s bodies and identities, and if this ‘miseducated’ identity influences black women’s experiences of physical activity. Drawing on a Foucauldian discourse analysis and pilot interviews, I will present my preliminary analysis of the relationship between black women, BMI, and physical activity as scholarship on this specific topic is scarce but critical to the mission of physical cultural studies.