Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty of Science
Dr. Robb Travers
Dr. Carla Rice
This study set out to understand the intergenerational movement and impact of obesity epidemic and anti-fat narratives that emerged after the 1950s in North America. Embedded in an Anglo-Western, neoliberal context, the current study sought to understand the impact of weight-based messaging on the embodied experiences of parents and their now-adult children. Working within a critical-transformative paradigm and drawing on post-humanism and new materialism, I conducted 19 narrative interviews with individuals born between 1955 and 1990, six of whom were mother-daughter dyads, as well as a body mapping workshop with five self-selecting participants over the course of three sessions. I combined qualitative approaches of thematic and visual analysis with the post-qualitative approaches of “plugging in” or “thinking with theory” as a way of putting participants’ accounts directly into conversation with post humanist and neomaterialist understandings to theorize key findings. I pulled together these disparate and entangled methodological approaches to account for both the discursive and affective realities of embodied fat experiences under biopedagogical forces that stipulate how (and how not) to have a body. Findings from this study highlight how affect is mobilized in the conveyance of biopedagogical messages about fatness intergenerationally. Lessons about fat bodies are situated within and bolstered by an assemblage of forces, both social and material, including structural racism and sexism, diet culture and its artifacts (diet books, healthy weight programs, magazines, etc.), medical weight bias, technologies of weight measurement and loss (Body Mass Index, weight cycling programs, weight loss surgeries, etc.), public education, and wider family dynamics. Through its integration of feminist affect theory alongside the novel use of arts-based body mapping with fat participants, the Feeling Fat study offers significant opportunities for the advancement of fat liberation.
Cook, Katie, "Feeling Fat: Theorizing Intergenerational Body Narratives Through Affect" (2022). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2432.