Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Journalism

First Advisor

Meenakshi Gigi Durham

Abstract

In recent years, the salience of obesity and body image in society has given rise to a "fat activist" movement dedicated to defending non-normative body types. This activism has extended to the online environment, in which groups who are ostracized from the traditional realm have taken to blogging as a form of resistance and expression. The term "fat" has been reclaimed by the movement as a term of emancipation and defiance. The so-called "fatshion" blogs have a growing audience, and there is a burgeoning scholarly literature on this phenomenon. The aim of this research was to investigate college-aged females who identify as "fat," who may or may not have been exposed to the online fatshion (fat fashion) market or blogs. Are these blogs being used as resources for these women? Do they even know these websites exist? Thus, the aim of this study was to discover what the current fashion sector is like for those who may not participate as heavily within these communities.

The main objective of this study was to find how plus-size women's fashion choices are shaped by the dominant discourses of the body and how this, in turn, influences their shopping experiences. By conducting semi-structured interviews along with participants filling out a small questionnaire, an in-depth look at the personal thoughts and feelings of fat women outside of this movement was explored. Fatshion was studied through four theoretical lenses: as a counter-discourse, as a place for identity construction, as a mode of gender performativity, and how fatshion is informed by intersectionality of race, class, and gender. Based on the interview data, the study found that the messages found on fatshion blogs have the potential to spark opposition in ways that mobilize a more positive self-image as well as nonconformist self-presentations through a heightened awareness of the possibilities for opposing dominant ideologies.

Public Abstract

In recent years, the rise of obesity and body image issues in society has given rise to a "fat activist" movement dedicated to defending alternative bodies. This activism has extended online, where groups who are ostracized for their bodies have taken to blogging as a form of resistance and expression. These "fatshion" (fat fashion) blogs have a growing audience, and there has been increasing literature on this topic. The aim of this research was to investigate college-aged females who identify as "fat," who may or may not have been exposed to the online fatshion market or blogs. Are these blogs being used as resources for these women? The purpose of this study was to discover what fashion is like for those who may not participate as heavily within these communities, specifically looking at how plus-size women’s fashion choices are shaped by the cultural and mediated discourses of the body and whether this influences their shopping experiences. By conducting interviews along with a questionnaire, the thoughts and feelings of fat women outside of this movement were explored. Fatshion was studied through four theoretical lenses: as a counter-discourse, a place for identity construction, a mode of gender performativity, and a phenomenon informed by intersectionality of race, class, and gender. Based on the interview data, the study found that, when they were used, fatshion blogs were a site of resistance that women navigated in relation to their own body image and their ideas on fashion.

Keywords

publicabstract, Blogging, Fatshion Blogging, Gender, Identity, Internet Studies, Plus-Size Women

Pages

ix, 90 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 81-90).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Katy Leigh Stang

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