The Changing Responses to Weight-Related Stigma in Online Social Media (#21)
The issue of fat, overweight and obesity is one of the most salient issues within today’s society, and individuals considered to be ‘fat,’ ‘overweight,’ or ‘obese’ face pervasive and repeated weight-related stigma in many areas of their life. Furthermore, this weight related stigma is part of everyday life, is resistant to change, and results in an impaired quality of life for corpulent individuals. The aim of this presentation is to describe the findings of a study that took a novel approach to the examination of weight-related stigma by exploring the experiences, attitudes and beliefs of an online weblogging community known as the Fatosphere. The Fatosphere is an online weblog (or blog) community which engages in critical discourse around the issues of adiposity, and provides assistance and support to others within the community. Utilising an inductive grounded theory approach, semi-structured Skype, telephone or email interviews were conducted with 44 bloggers from this online community. The aim was to understand their view of obesity, and examine how weight-related stigma impacts those who are considered to be fat, overweight and obese. The changes in participants’ responses to weight-related stigma will be discussed, alongside their perceptions of their health behaviours and status both before and after becoming part of the Fatosphere. Furthermore, the role of self-compassion in providing a protective factor in assisting those considered to be fat, overweight and obese to navigate health behaviours, body image, and weight-related stigma will be discussed.