Being large: An interpretive phenomenological enquiry into the lived world of problematic weight

Thesis


Westland Barber, S. 2017. Being large: An interpretive phenomenological enquiry into the lived world of problematic weight. Thesis Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC) Psychology
TitleBeing large: An interpretive phenomenological enquiry into the lived world of problematic weight
AuthorsWestland Barber, S.
Abstract

The aim of this study is to explore how large women who are unhappy with their weight experience their everyday lives. This qualitative phenomenological research was conducted through semi-structured interviews with six participants (all who defined themselves as BMI ≥ 30), whose descriptions were then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Two main themes were identified. The first highlighted the continual experience of being a monstrously huge body and how this impacts life. The second explored how perpetually feeling the eyes of others created everyday challenges that needed to be managed.
This study seeks to contribute to the limited existing phenomenological UK based research undertaken with large women from the general population. Its findings suggest the highly ambiguous lived experience of being large. There is an intensely all-consuming bodily managing practice of disownment and positioning the body as an object-like form (medically, socially and impaired). There is constant self-surveillance and social scrutiny trying to be acceptable in their unacceptable bodies within their relational world. There is an attempt to avoid feelings of shame and to experience themselves as more than their body even though this is how they experience themselves. The clinical significance lies in its attempt to increase understanding from an integrative existential psychological perspective for weight management including; the experience of someone’s physical, social, psychological and spiritual worlds; the understanding and impact of general moods; embracing the ambiguity of the body and the enhancement of agency. The study recommends that further research be undertaken into how these areas are specifically experienced and the meaning given by large women.

LanguageEnglish
Department namePsychology
Institution nameMiddlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Publication dates
Print16 Feb 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Feb 2017
Accepted10 Jan 2017
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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