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‘I'm totally smart and a feminist…and yet I want to be a waif’: Exploring ambivalence towards the thin ideal within the fat acceptance movement

Donaghue, N. and Clemitshaw, A (2012) ‘I'm totally smart and a feminist…and yet I want to be a waif’: Exploring ambivalence towards the thin ideal within the fat acceptance movement. Women's Studies International Forum, 35 (6). pp. 415-425.

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Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2012.07.005
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Abstract

Rising concern within western societies about the so-called 'obesity epidemic' has resulted in ubiquitous public health messages regarding the risks to health from being overweight. The prevalence of anti-obesity discourse has given rise to a counter movement, known as the 'Fat Acceptance' movement, which challenges claims about the relationships between body weight and health and promotes respect for people with fat bodies. This paper explores the subjective experiences of women who participate in an online fat acceptance web log via their descriptions of the ways in which they are affected by and attempt to resist cultural discourses promoting the 'thin ideal'. Using a feminist poststructuralist analysis, the findings indicate that women experience many benefits of being fat-accepting, such as self acceptance, emancipation from dieting, and more time and energy to pursue other interests. However, the women also wrote at length about their struggles to give up striving for the social and self acceptance that they associated with being thin, revealing the difficulties and complexities of these efforts at resisting the 'thin ideal' that has become such a normative requirement of successful western femininity.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/11101
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