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Fat Lives

A Feminist Psychological Exploration

By Irmgard Tischner

Routledge – 2013 – 166 pages

Series: Women and Psychology

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $49.95
    October 26th 2012
  • Add to CartHardback: $152.00
    October 26th 2012


Ever caught somebody – or yourself – checking out the content of a ‘fat’ person’s supermarket trolley? Ever wondered what lies behind this behaviour, or what it might be like to be at the receiving end of this judging gaze?

Within the context of the current ‘obesity debate’, this book investigates the embodied experience of ‘being large’ from a critical psychological perspective. Using poststructuralist and feminist theories, the author explores the discourses available to and used by self-designated ‘fat’ individuals, as well as the societal power relationships that are produced by these.

Using the issues of body size and ‘fat’ as an illustration, the book describes the benefits of exploring psychological and social matters from a poststructuralist perspective, and the dangers inherent in taking reductionist approaches to public health and other social issues. As such, this book should be of particular interest to anyone working within the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and health studies, as well as those involved in the study of health, gender issues and appearance.


"I like how clearly structured, coherent and accessible this book is. It is a good example of how to describe and share relevant research with a wider audience, while still making a contribution to the body of critical scholarly literature. Because of this, the book will benefit not only those working on the topic of the gendered body, but those interested in using the resources of poststructuralist and critical feminist theory as a way of making sense of social issues. I would recommend this book to students who are embarking on a research project and intend using critical psychology and feminist poststructuralism as theoretical resources." - Jude Clark, Clinical Psychologist, Durban for PINS

"This study of fat people in their social milieu by Tischner (social psychology, Univ. of Worcester, UK) tackles the experience of being "large" (always in single quotes in the book), in a Western "healthist" and "neoliberal" culture that is determined to judge the condition as pathological. Using a feminist Foucauldian postmodern deconstructive perspective in exposing societal attitudes and pressures, her goal is ambitious--to reform thinking about fat bodies…The ideas have merit…It could be read with some benefit by undergraduate and professional students. Summing Up: Recommended."- R. H. Balsam, Yale University, for CHOICE, July 2013

"Fat Lives: A Feminist Psychological Exploration offers a very timely, much-needed and theoretically sophisticated exploration of the profoundly gendered embodied subjectivities of 'fat' individuals in contemporary western culture. Taking a feminist Foucauldian perspective and drawing on a range of autobiographical narratives, Irmgard Tischner explores 'fat' people's lived experiences to elucidate their subjective, cultural and political significances. This book is essential reading for anyone questioning the orthodoxies of anti-obesity rhetoric or wanting to understand the socio-political and subjective complexities of 'fat' women's and men's lives today." - Helen Malson, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK


A mantra of body weight, health and lifestyle– setting the scene for fat lives. 1. Putting the Fat Body in Context. 2. How can we explore fat lives? 3. Women’s in/visible ‘large bodies’- always visible but rarely seen. 4. "I just wear clothes to keep me warm". 5. Health, well-being and the responsible fat woman. 6. Gendering Fat. Conclusions: The Experience of Being Fat

Author Bio

Irmgard Tischner is Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Worcester and associate member of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her research focuses on poststructuralist, feminist and critical psychological approaches to the study of embodiment and subjectivity, particularly in relation to (gendered) discourses of body size, health and physical activity in contemporary western societies.

Name: Fat Lives: A Feminist Psychological Exploration (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: By Irmgard Tischner. Ever caught somebody – or yourself – checking out the content of a ‘fat’ person’s supermarket trolley? Ever wondered what lies behind this behaviour, or what it might be like to be at the receiving end of...
Categories: Feminist Psychology, Gender Identity & Sex Roles, Gender Studies - Soc Sci, Gender Studies, Critical Psychology