Life in this Fat Body: Exploring the multiple realities of fat embodiment
This thesis is an anthropological enquiry of the fat body. It explores the narratives of eleven individuals in New Zealand and Australia who are fat, or who have experienced life as a fat person. In the midst of an ‘obesity epidemic’, biomedical narratives dominate public understandings of ‘obesity’ and present fat individuals as a picture of poor-health, as lazy and morally irresponsible. This discourse dominates current discussions of ‘obesity’ to the extent that narratives engaging with lived experiences of the fat body are frequently excluded from public discussion and popular thought. Using Annemarie Mol’s (2002) claim that reality is multiple, this thesis challenges this dominant discourse through a combination of personal narrative and photography. Participants were asked to take photographs and provide images that represent their experience of fat. Using their stories, I argue that understanding fat bodies is best explored through participants’ narratives of the multiple bodies they occupy and experience. My findings are used to challenge current representations of fat bodies in western society as I explore the multiple ways in which fat bodies are experienced, felt and negotiated. This thesis reveals that there are diverse types of bodies that emerge in different ethnographic moments, settings and relationships and these are political, social and embodied.