Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Fat Man Sang and It Ain't Over: An Autoethnographic Study in Obesity and Discrimination

Sebastian J. Romeo, Student, Educational Leadership for Change

This autoethnographic dissertation explored my personal accounts of the dynamics that are associated with how society views and treats obese individuals and the negative impact it has with regards to overcoming personal barriers that impair one’s ability to overcome obesity. Using three personal scenarios, I explored and exposed issues surrounding obesity and weight discrimination (Andreyeva et al. 2008; Puhl& Heuer, 2012). The first scenario, exposed how media portrays obese individuals through theatre and how this influences society’s perception of them and self-perceptions as well. In the second scenario, I point to the treatment I received from both teachers and fellow students in elementary school. I highlight this particular time period because these experiences caused me to turn to food for emotional comfort that caused long lasting negative effects (Danielsen et al., 2012; O’Moore & Kirkham, 2001). In the third scenario, I point to discriminatory encounters that I had with various healthcare professionals, which have serious health implications (Amy et al., 2005). My intent was to provide insight into how these three influential systems contribute to negative self-perceptions of obese individuals. Recommendations for educators and health care professionals are:

- Continued work with obese people to become healthy and emotionally well

- Informing/educating society that people are obese for many reasons

- Informing/educating that normalcy occurs in all body types

-Continued support and education of zero tolerance of bullying policies

- Health Professional should focus their discussions from appearance to health behaviors

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