American Culture Studies Ph.D. Dissertations


Living the Fat Body: Women's Experiences and Relationships with Their Bodies and Popular Culture

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Culture Studies

First Advisor

Lesa Lockford (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Sandra Faulkner (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Kimberly Coates (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Madeline Duntley (Other)


Beginning from Foucault's notion that "where there is power, there is resistance," I uncover how fat people are at any given time accepting, resisting, and/or subverting the oppressive power embedded in social norms surrounding their bodies (95). Each chapter reveals a new layer, a new complication as to how, why, and when individuals are (un)able, (un)willing, and/or (un)certain about how they can and are treating their own and other people's fat bodies. In my study, I take as a given that behavior is fluid, ever changing, shifting, and in progress. My study demonstrates how media messages are being accepted, resisted, re-appropriated, altered, internalized, and/or ignored by individuals; thus, my study brings focus to the complex relationships fat people have surrounding their subjectivity, their sense of power, agency, and ability to resist, as well as the interplay of the intersections of their social identities, and their sense of embodiment and the performance of their fat body.