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The College of St. Scholastica

Kelly Mullan, associate director of general education, Dignitas director and lecturer in the Communication and Media Studies department, will present at this month’s School of Arts and Letters colloquium on Friday, April 22.

Mullan’s presentation “Feminism, Fatness and Fame” interrogates musician Lizzo’s message of body positivity and contrasts it with the realities that exist for fat women as a social identity group in the United States today.

“In media courses we spend lots of time talking about representation, and that conversation also includes the impact of absence,” said Mullan. “Who don’t we see? Whose stories are not being told? When I saw the attention Lizzo was receiving, not just for her talent, but for deliberately claiming space as a fat woman in the mainstream and on social media, I questioned why many people were using words like “brave” and “bold” to describe her existing so publicly in the body she has.”

Those questions have had a transformative impact. “What started out as a curiosity about Lizzo shaped itself into a research question for my PhD dissertation #emBODYgram, in which I am studying the impacts of intentionally exposing young women to images of a wider variety of body types on an Instagram feed.”

Mullan has also found inspiration from her teenage children, their friends and her students as she’s watched them navigate their human experience through social media. “I wonder about how all the images they see, and the types of images they don’t see, impact their feelings of self-esteem and belonging,” she said.

She hopes to conclude her research and writing within the year.

“Feminism, Fatness and Fame” will be held from 3:40-5:10 p.m. in the Library North Reading Room and is free and open to the public.