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Communicating Stigma about Body Size
Health Communication
  • Jenn Anderson, South Dakota State University
  • Mary Bresnahan, Michigan State University
Document Type
Publication Date
Body-size stigma is a well-documented phenomenon, particularly for large bodies (Puhl & Brownell, 2003), but few studies have investigated the features of body-related stigma communication. This article uses Smith's (2007a) stigma communication framework to analyze descriptions of male and female bodies of various sizes for their stigma content. Analyses reveal that elements of stigma communication appeared in 46.5% of comments across all bodies. The most common elements of stigma communication were severe labeling and negative comparison to body ideals. The most stigmatized body was the large male body; the second most stigmatized body was the very small female body. This article shows that stigmatizing communication occurs across the spectrum of body sizes for both genders. The implications of weight-based stigma communication on emotional and physical health are discussed. Implications for future health communication interventions aimed at decreasing body size stigma are presented.
DOI of Published Version
Taylor & Francis
Citation Information
Jenn Anderson and Mary Bresnahan. "Communicating Stigma about Body Size" Health Communication Vol. 28 Iss. 6 (2013) p. 603 - 615
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