Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Gender and Women's Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Bordo


This dissertation focuses on representations, histories, and personal accounts of fat women’s bodies and sexualities. I address stereotypes and representations of fat women's sexuality in popular culture, including film, advertising, television, and literature. Through this examination, I move beyond one-dimensional representations of fat women's sexualities to a more complex, nuanced understanding of the realities of being fat, sexual, and a woman today. Fat women are often represented as either sexless, miserable, and lonely, or alternately, hypersexual and sexually deviant, with the inability to control their appetites for both food and sex. (see Bordo, Gilman, Farrell, Shaw, Wolf) By parsing through histories of fat representation, I intend to show that these stereotypes can be quite harmful to fat women; they also fail to represent the nuances and contradictions of fat women’s sexual experience and sexual self-image. The project is hybrid style: I include narratives from my own life, as I am a fat women also dealing with these issues. I examine experiences of girlhood in this cultural climate of anti-fatness, as well as images and representations of fat beauty. I close by thinking about efforts to "normalize" fat bodies in popular culture and their impact.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)