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Moving beyond a monolithic fat narrative: An intersectional and relational cultural exploration of fat resistance

Graham, Rebecca
Fat individuals have historically been erased, dismissed, and pushed to the margins of both society and scholarship. Extant fat literature has sought to advocate for fat individuals and understand systemic mechanisms that oppress them. Recently, fat studies have sought to promote fat positivity/ acceptance, as well adopt a more intersectional and critical lens to reveal fatphobia’s anti-Black origins and understand the structures that fuel anti-fatness. Despite these efforts, there remains a scarcity of research that centers on fat agency, the intersectional variations of the fat experience, and what is needed for fat and body liberation. Furthermore, research has yet to explore the ways in which fat individuals navigate and resist fatphobia through their engagement in meaningful and empowering relationships. Utilizing an integrative theoretical framework of intersectionality theory, Critical Race Theory (CRT), and Relational Cultural Theory (RCT), a Consensual Qualitative Research Modified (CQR-M) analysis was conducted to explore fat individuals’ efforts towards navigating and resisting anti-fatness, and to understand the influence of intersecting privileged and/or marginalized identities on variations in fat experiences. The results of this study demonstrate how fatness is not a monolithic experience and how current societal narratives regarding fat folks are limiting and inaccurate. This study’s results also provide implications for what environmental and systemic changes are needed to better accommodate and support fat/ larger bodied people and how individuals suffering from fat discrimination and internalized fatphobia can cultivate healthier relationships with their bodies. They finally provide implications for the field of mental health and psychology and for mental health clinicians working to support clients navigating sizeism and internalized fatphobia.