The Weight of Living: An Analysis of Anti-Fat Bias and Fatphobia in Women's Working Relationships

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Newcomb, Hannah
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Middle Tennessee State University
Societal ideas about obesity, fatness, and overweight permeate the social institutions that govern our lives. From employment, romantic relationships, education, and more, our society reinforces the stereotypes and mistreatment of fat people. Women in particular are faced with the stigma of existing in a larger body, which frequently results in fat women facing lower hourly and lifetime earnings, and limits on their occupational attainment (Fikkan and Rothblum 2011). Through ten qualitative interviews with fat women, I explore how these women navigate their workplace and working relationships. This research centers fat women and their experiences, while providing insight on the inequalities members of this group face in the working world. My findings indicate that fat women experience stigma at work and use various techniques to manage this stigma. I argue that negative perceptions about fatness manifest in the relationships women form at work and provide obstacles for fat women in attaining career success. Further, I assert that workplace cultures can reinforce the deviance of fatness.
Deviance, Fat studies, Fatphobia, Gender, Weight discrimination, Work, Sociology