Fat Lives : A Feminist Psychological Exploration book cover
1st Edition

Fat Lives
A Feminist Psychological Exploration

ISBN 9780415680943
Published December 14, 2012 by Routledge
176 Pages

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Book Description

Ever caught somebody – or yourself – checking out the content of a ‘fat’ person’s supermarket trolley? Ever wondered what lies behind this behaviour, or what it might be like to be at the receiving end of this judging gaze?

Within the context of the current ‘obesity debate’, this book investigates the embodied experience of ‘being large’ from a critical psychological perspective. Using poststructuralist and feminist theories, the author explores the discourses available to and used by self-designated ‘fat’ individuals, as well as the societal power relationships that are produced by these.

Using the issues of body size and ‘fat’ as an illustration, the book describes the benefits of exploring psychological and social matters from a poststructuralist perspective, and the dangers inherent in taking reductionist approaches to public health and other social issues. As such, this book should be of particular interest to anyone working within the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and health studies, as well as those involved in the study of health, gender issues and appearance.

Table of Contents

A mantra of body weight, health and lifestyle– setting the scene for fat lives. 1. Putting the Fat Body in Context. 2. How can we explore fat lives? 3. Women’s in/visible ‘large bodies’- always visible but rarely seen. 4. "I just wear clothes to keep me warm". 5. Health, well-being and the responsible fat woman. 6. Gendering Fat. Conclusions: The Experience of Being Fat

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Irmgard Tischner is Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Worcester and associate member of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her research focuses on poststructuralist, feminist and critical psychological approaches to the study of embodiment and subjectivity, particularly in relation to (gendered) discourses of body size, health and physical activity in contemporary western societies.


"Fat Lives is a useful reference text for researchers and graduate students looking for a model of how to do critical fat scholarship, and for those who wish to adopt critical feminist and Foucauldian perspectives and tools in their research on weight, health, fat, obesity, and other related topics. This is in part due to the way that Tischner clearly and comprehensively describes these perspectives and the way in which she documents her selection and application of them in this research project. In her thorough and thoughtful explication of her theoretical and epistemological approach, she strives for reflexivity, addressing power dynamics, methodology, and process and offering her personal reflections to afford transparency and validity to her work. In sum, this book is well worth reading. It is an important and necessary contribution to the cultural conversation about weight." Gabriele Griffin, University of York, for Feminism & Psychology

"I like how clearly structured, coherent and accessible this book is.  It is a good example of how to describe and share relevant research with a wider audience, while still making a contribution to the body of critical scholarly literature. Because of this, the book will benefit not only those working on the topic of the gendered body, but those interested in using the resources of poststructuralist and critical feminist theory as  a way of making sense of social issues. I would recommend this book to students who are embarking on a research project and intend using critical psychology and feminist poststructuralism as theoretical resources." - Jude Clark, Clinical Psychologist, Durban for PINS

"This study of fat people in their social milieu by Tischner (social psychology, Univ. of Worcester, UK) tackles the experience of being "large" (always in single quotes in the book), in a Western "healthist" and "neoliberal" culture that is determined to judge the condition as pathological. Using a feminist Foucauldian postmodern deconstructive perspective in exposing societal attitudes and pressures, her goal is ambitious--to reform thinking about fat bodies...The ideas have merit...It could be read with some benefit by undergraduate and professional students. Summing Up: Recommended."- R. H. Balsam, Yale University, for CHOICE, July 2013

"Fat Lives: A Feminist Psychological Exploration offers a very timely, much-needed and theoretically sophisticated exploration of the profoundly gendered embodied subjectivities of 'fat' individuals in contemporary western culture. Taking a feminist Foucauldian perspective and drawing on a range of autobiographical narratives, Irmgard Tischner explores 'fat' people's lived experiences to elucidate their subjective, cultural and political significances. This book is essential reading for anyone questioning the orthodoxies of anti-obesity rhetoric or wanting to understand the socio-political and subjective complexities of 'fat' women's and men's lives today." - Helen Malson, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK