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Quantifying or contributing to antifat attitudes?

Cain, P., Donaghue, N. and Ditchburn, G. (2021) Quantifying or contributing to antifat attitudes? In: Pausé, C. and Taylor, S.R., (eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Fat Studies. Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group, pp. 26-36.

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In assessing and attempting to modify attitudes toward fatness, academics and researchers make use of measures and scales developed specifically for this purpose. Currently the more robust and recommended instruments focus on measuring anti-fat sentiment. While it may seem logical that to reduce anti-fat attitudes we need explicit anti-fat measures, this approach is not without consequence and deserves thoughtful critique. In this chapter, key measures of anti-fat attitudes are reviewed in order to draw attention to the problematic ways in which fatness, fat bodies and fat people are depicted. Examination of these measures indicates that assessments of fat people’s character and attractiveness are central to the current operationalizations of anti-fat attitudes, with the spectrum of negative appraisals including: being deviant, inferior, impaired and disgusting. Intervention research that attempts to engender more positive attitudes is also examined and found to frequently espouse negativity. Research participants are commonly engaged with stereotypically negative messages and deleterious images of fatness and fat people and then required to complete anti-fat measures. Even research approaching from a critical fat agenda, due to a lack of alternatives, paradoxically relies on anti-fat instruments for assessing positive change. Reflecting on this approach to measurement and intervention is vital if we are to continue to do work within this research protocol, and if we are to develop measures and materials that honor all bodies and reflect the colorful and complex landscape of fat discourse.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
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