Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies (BA)


Cultural Studies

First Advisor

Jaafar Aksikas

Second Advisor

C. Richard King


This project is presented as a critical intervention into the larger debates surrounding the U.S. fat acceptance and fat pride political ‘movements,’ at a historical moment when the country is suffering from a deep obesity epidemic and crisis. At a time of deep concern about increasing healthcare costs and overall societal health, the fact that the dominant discourse among fat activists tends to contradict prevalent positions and findings of contemporary medical research calls for a critical ideological critique of the movements and an interrogation of their rhetoric. In this project Gabriella Papas’ critique combines concepts from both cultural studies and medical research in order to conduct a critical textual and contextual analysis of these emergent formations. She interrogates the common claims and discourses circulating amongst fat activists and supporters in various popular and social media outlets. In particular, she focuses on the ideas of self-proclaimed fat activists, such as Virgie Tovar, Tess Holliday, and Whitney Way Thore. Papas claims that these activists’ arguments far from advancing the larger feminist goal of undoing the objectification of the female body have instead resulted and assisted in enabling the commodification of a serious health issue for monetary gain.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.