Fat acceptance 101: Midwestern American women’s perspective on cultural body acceptance

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Weight stigma is pervasive in the US, with body size being pathologised and weight loss urged for those of higher weights. However, there is a growing movement for fat acceptance and body positivity. The present study explored perceptions and experiences of cultural body acceptance trends among Midwestern American women who are trying to, or have tried to, ‘accept’ their bodies. Participants (n = 18) are self-identified women who have ever been labelled ‘obese’ on the Body Mass Index and have ever tried to develop a more positive relationship with their bodies. Participants were interviewed three times over the course of approximately one year using a semi-structured interview guide that explored their perceptions of how society represented and treated those of a higher weight. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and interviews and field-notes analysed thematically. Emergent themes included greater (mixed) representation, lip service, and inclusive cultures. Ultimately, participants positioned shifting attitudes towards fat bodies within wider social trends toward greater inclusion and diversity in general, but remained frustrated by ceilings of acceptable size, disingenuous messaging, and cultural backsliding.




Bombak, A. E., Meadows, A., & Billette, J. (2019). Fat acceptance 101: Midwestern American women’s perspective on cultural body acceptance. Health Sociology Review, 28(2), 194–208. https://doi.org/10.1080/14461242.2019.1604150

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