Fat Bodies: where do they stand? PHYSICAL EDUCATION
Fat Bodies: where do they stand? PHYSICAL EDUCATION DIRECTORATE (PHYSICAL EDUCATION, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, SCHOOL SPORT) Research and Teaching in Higher Education Report on third year student dissertation research Autoethnography Staff-student research collaboration Autoethnography as a research method: considering assessment
Fat Bodies: where do they stand? 27% of adults are classified as obese (NHS, 2018). Government and health organisations convincingly lead obese people to believe that they are living with a chronic disease caused by overeating and a sedentary lifestyle (Monaghan, 2008). Moral risks associated with obesity include notions of: bad citizens, a drain on society, a cost to taxpayers, and citizens letting their community down (Petersen & Lupton, 1996). From an individual perspective, fat is deemed a clearly visible symbol of self-neglect and lack of willpower (Cliff and Wright, 2010) giving off messages of laziness, lack of hygiene and unkempt presentation (van Amsterdam et al., 2012).
pre-service physical education teachers demonstrated pity towards those deemed as fat (Varea and Underwood, 2016) We learn to understand fat bodies as the undesirable other (Cliff and Wright, 2010) in comparison to normal and acceptable bodies. The way language is used to suggest it is a problem that is unacceptable and out of control promotes the idea that to possess a fat body is a moral deviance (Monaghan, 2008b; Murray, 2007; Sykes and McPhail, 2008). As a result of this, obese individuals are highly stigmatized and face multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination because of their weight (Puhl and Heuer, 2009, p.941).
The marginalisation of overweight bodies Within running research, the gaze came from the normal bodied runners. Interviewees explained how runners were made to feel that it was unacceptable and disgusting for fat bodies to take part in running (Chase, 2008) The sporting body is either a site of control where its slender or working towards being slender or fit to participate Or it is a site of resistance where it rebels against the dominant discourse by taking part in sporting activities that belong to the athletic body (Chase, 2008) Despite moral and social judgments, fatness can also be understood as a celebration of human diversity.
When considered in a more neutral way, we can recognise that body shape does not always have a direct link to health (Le Besco, 2011). Method Autoethnography explores the authors personal story and connects these stories to wider political, social, and cultural meanings (Ellis, 2004; Ellis and Bochner, 2000) The author should move backwards and forwards through the exploration of moments related to personal experiences and honest vulnerability, to a more detached analysis of events and experiences utilising theories and previous research (Ellis and Bochner, 2000). This method highlights the author as being a social being within a larger society.
It is a reflection of past experiences, but is also a valuable representation of the culture that they are situated This study provides an insight into the inner struggles that I experienced whilst coming to grips with my new body presentation, perceived loss of identity, and adoption of a new identity that I rejected From measuring weight to lifting weight: failing at both Right then so I was 86 kilos, I must be pushing 90 kilos by the way Ive been going. I step on, then off, then on again. This cant be right 106 kilos! Are you having a laugh? I step off in disbelief and stand there on the cold bathroom tiles with my eyes closed.
Multiple feelings shoot through my mind to the point where it was hard to pinpoint exactly which is the most dominant feeling. Disappointment, embarrassment, disgust, who am I? It was as though a demon had jumped into my body and was using it for itself, I had been robbed of my identity. Right this is it, lets go for it. I jump up and grip the bar, my feet dangle two inches above the ground. I pull through my arms and expect to go sailing up towards the bar. I go nowhere. I lose grip and land on my feet again. Theoretical Explanation Capital: In the field of the gym, I had lost my physical capital (Bourdieu, 1984), other forms such as my social capital (Bourdieu, 1984) also saw a decline too.
Impression Management: Goffman (1959) explains how we conduct our lives in a similar way to stage performers, we perform differently depending on the audience present. In social spaces we engage in impression management, we monitor and adjust our behaviours in accordance to how we feel we should be, or how we want to be perceived by others. Class 1: obese I read down the side of the normative data classifications: class 1 obesity. I sit there with my head in my hands, staring at the blurred desk through my teary eyes. Thats it! I think to myself. Its no longer my own or others interpretations, but science itself has told me how it is. My heart sinks as I think about my current body,
and how I can physically feel myself growing out of my t-shirts that looked good on me last year. Im dreading this summer. I am to blame for getting to this size, nobody else, its me who hasnt trained, and me who has eaten like a glutton. I debate with myself whether I am in fact the hard-working person that I believe I am, or whether I am the lazy person that I imagine my friends think I am because I am fat. I can hardly do the button up on my shorts. Suddenly my face changes, I find myself staring into the mirror again without even realising. Moving from side to side staring at the new spare tyre staring right back at me through the white t-shirt. I climb into the car, hiding behind the lenses of my sunglasses. I imagine myself to be less visible to others whilst I am wearing them.
We get to the theme park and I climb out of the car and stare at myself in the reflection beaming off of Danielles car. Damn, Im doing it again! Why cant I stop? I look around to see if anybody was watching me check myself out but they arent. This is a bad habit that Ive got myself into, but I cant help it. As I stand by the car, I consider strategies to make myself look thinner and less visible than I am, just in case somebody is looking at me with disgust. Theoretical Explanation Science: Ideas backed up with scientific reasoning become taken for granted as normal
and common-sense (Pronger, 1993). Foucault (1982) described how scientific classification is linked to processes of knowledge formation. Foucault asserted that these methods utilised by the human sciences construct universal categories of people, thus objectifying humans (Smith Maguire, 2002). Self-surveillance: Self-surveillance is a result of panopticism, where the potential gaze of others is internalised (Foucault, 1977). Fat people are automatically assumed to be lazy and undisciplined (Fitzpatrick, 2011) Research and Teaching in Higher Education Autoethnography as a research method: considering assessment
Autoethnography used as the assessment in a third year module: When discussing with students, they tend to find the process a useful one to critique their own taken for granted assumptions, and also social situations that they have found themselves in Richard enjoyed this approach during the module and chose to adopt it for his dissertation Our external examiner recommended this dissertation and one other for publication, so we are currently collaborating to finalise this submission
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