Being 'thick' indicates you are eating, you are healthy and you have an attractive body shape: Perspectives on fatness and food choice amongst Black and White men and women in Canada

Svetlana Ristovski-Slijepcevic, Kirsten Bell, Gwen E. Chapman, Brenda L. Beagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite recent critiques of contemporary obesity discourses that link ‘modern Western lifestyles’ to an ‘obesity epidemic’, the population’s weight remains a central concern of current dietary guidelines. Food choices that are considered beneficial to maintaining a certain weight are understood to play a key role in one’s health. This concern reflects medico-moral assumptions about the properties of food and what people should eat. However, the impact of obesity discourses on different individuals and social groups is rarely considered, although there is some evidence that people do generate, reflect and resist the norms and standards set for them, including those that relate to food/weight. In this paper, we will examine the perspectives on fatness and food choice amongst Black and White women and men living in Vancouver and Halifax, Canada. With this examination, we will challenge conventional assumptions about the singular ‘modern Western lifestyle’ that leads to obesity concerns by teasing out some of the social, cultural and political contexts within which people conceptualise issues regarding weight and make their food choices. By examining the experiences of both women and men we will also provide important insights into the gendered ways in which people engage with obesity discourses and the injunction to ‘eat healthily’ as a form of weight management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-329
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • sociology
  • obesity
  • gender
  • discourse
  • Canada

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