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Joan Chrisler

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Fat stigma is a significant problem in American culture. The “thin ideal” is deeply ingrained in our culture and promoted by our media, and fat phobia takes a psychological toll on people of all sizes. I designed an intervention to reduce fat prejudice by educating participants about fat myths and exposing them to likable fat people in a video. Participants were placed into one of three conditions: the Intervention condition, in which participants read an educational article about fat myths and viewed a re-humanizing video; the Education condition, in which participants read the article on fat myths and viewed a neutral, unrelated video; and the Control condition, in which participants read a neutral, unrelated article and viewed the neutral video. Participants completed a questionnaire on fat attitudes before and after having been exposed to the article and movie. Scores on fat phobia, beliefs about obesity (aka fat myths), and fat-negative attitudes were compared for the three groups. The Intervention method succeeded in reducing belief in fat myths, and was the only condition that demonstrated this improvement. The Intervention did not, however, improve scores of fat phobia or anti fat attitudes. The observation that the intervention resulted in only limited improvements suggests that it needs to be strengthened, but the significant reduction in belief in fat myths is very promising. The limited success may also indicate just how difficult it is to adjust attitudes that have been deeply ingrained and promoted by our culture and society.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.