Psychology Lecturer Explores the Issues of Body Size in New Book

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Dr Irmgard Tischner, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Worcester, investigates what lies behind this behaviour and explores societal approaches to weight loss in her new book ‘Fat Lives: A Feminist Psychological Exploration’.

The book not only looks at the higher pressures on women over men to lose weight and conform to being a certain size, but it also looks at the reductionist, body weight-focused approach to health, predominant in contemporary society.

Discussing the recently published book and her research, Irmgard said: “Not everyone who is overweight is necessarily unhealthy, and being slim does not always equate to being healthy either. Health is so much more complex than just our weight on a bathroom scale, but in our society, losing weight to improve health is promoted over being healthy. We believe we can read a person's health and lifestyle from their size, which leads to the discrimination of large individuals, branding them 'health-offenders'.”

She continues: “Every January, weight loss promises are on the cover of most magazines, and women are the prime target of these weight loss directives. Popular media also encourages men to lose weight but, in relation to body size and appearance, the pressure still seems greater on women.

"The gendering of fat is of further interest as the war on obesity seemingly targets both women and men. We are all held responsible for our own health and well-being, and health is equated with body size by health professionals, the media and the general public alike. The notions that fat is unhealthy and being slim and weight loss are inherently good have become so ingrained in society that the equation of ‘being healthy’ with ‘losing weight’ or ‘maintaining a low body weight’ is universal and goes largely unquestioned."

Within the context of the current ‘obesity debate’, Fat Lives investigates the embodied experience of ‘being large’ from a critical psychological perspective.

The book is available directly from the publisher or various on-line and high-street book sellers.

Irmgard hopes to do further studies into issues around body size, body management practices and how we experience these.

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