Between stigmatization and body acceptance. The media discourse concerning obese people

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Irena Wolska- Zogata


Abnormal body weight has been subject to varying assessments over time. The stigmatization of obesity for aesthetic reasons only began in the Western world in the second half of the 19th century, and in the 20th century its association with increased mortality was recognized. Body weight is associated with social and cultural meanings that affect human identity, and discussions about it generate considerable emotion. Words used to refer to body weight can influence people's self-perceptions, attitudes and behavior. Experimental studies have shown that even brief exposure to body-related words can trigger automatic judgements and evaluations about body shape and weight. These negative and often implicit associations are symptomatic of a wider social stigma associated with weight. Recent evidence points to globalization and the presence of weight stigma in both developed and developing countries around the world. Numerous studies further indicate that weight shaming does not lead to weight reduction but rather to weight gain. Therefore, from a public health perspective, it is important to develop messages that are at least non-stigmatizing. The aim of this article is to present existing research on stigmatizing content in the media, as well as to analyze three selected social campaigns related to obesity.


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Wolska- Zogata, Irena. 2023. “Between Stigmatization and Body Acceptance. The Media Discourse Concerning Obese People”. Diametros 20 (78):165-80.
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