University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Deconstructing Health and the Un/Healthy ‘Fat’ Woman

Tischner, Irmgard and Malson, H. (2012) Deconstructing Health and the Un/Healthy ‘Fat’ Woman. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 22 (1). pp. 55-62. ISSN Online: 1099-1298

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


Dominant discourses represent body weight as a consequence of lifestyle, equating ‘fatness’ with ‘disease’ and ‘thinness’ with ‘health’. Consequently, fat subjects become framed as lazy and not willing to follow a ‘healthy’ lifestyle. In neoliberal societies, where ‘the autonomous, self‐regulating individual’ is highly valued, the previous construction of fat subjects appears particularly damning. In this study, we explore how women who self‐identify as ‘large’ negotiate their body weight, health and neoliberal credentials. To this end, interviews were conducted with 18 women, and the transcripts were analysed using discourse analysis. The constructions of health and well‐being articulated by the women were much broader and more complex than those reproduced in dominant neoliberalised
discourses of health and body weight. Although most participants positioned themselves as healthy
and health literate, prevailing constructions of ‘fat is unhealthy’ were also reproduced, and participants
often struggled with the conflicting subject positions of the healthy and health‐conscious ‘good neoliberal citizen’ and the fat ‘failed’ individual risking ill‐health. Drawing on our analysis, we assert that, regardless of who is right in debates about the putative health implication of fat, the current reductionist approach to health and the global ‘war on obesity’ are problematic and potentially

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Staff and students at the University of Worcester can access the full-text of this article via the Official URL. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: discourse analysis, health, health and well-being, health promotion,‘obesity’, overweight, fat
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Copyright Info: Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Depositing User: Irmgard Tischner
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2012 10:57
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 16:58

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.