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Responding to the resistance: A critical discursive analysis of women’s engagement with Health At Every Size and Fat Acceptance messages

Cain, Patricia (2014) Responding to the resistance: A critical discursive analysis of women’s engagement with Health At Every Size and Fat Acceptance messages. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

The health consequences of excess body weight have been widely documented and publicised, and the weight related health paradigm has come to be widely accepted in western society. With this acceptance however has come a construction of the overweight individual as irresponsible, lacking in ability to self-regulate and constituting a burden to society. Stigma has been attached to weight, with bias and discrimination toward overweight individuals, the outcome. Resisting such discrimination and attempting to de-stigmatize weight are two movements in particular, Health At Every Size and Fat Acceptance. These social and political movements pose a challenge to the dominant ideology, based on the harmful effects of weight stigma and the growing body of evidence suggesting the contentious nature of the weight-health relationship. This study examined responses to these resistance movements via a Critical Discourse Analysis of focus group discussions of these movements among Australian undergraduate women. Twenty one female participants took part in a series of focus group where messages and images from the Health At Every Size and Fat Acceptance movements were presented. Although participants were generally sympathetic to the problems caused by weight stigma and stereotypes of overweight people, and endorsed the view that all people should be treated with respect, they also frequently fell back on widespread understandings of weight as personally controllable and health as a moral obligation, as a rationale for rejecting these messages. These findings are discussed in terms of the challenges faced by these resistance movements providing a means of reducing weight stigma.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Supervisor: Donaghue, Ngaire
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/24106
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