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Title: An explanation of the way people with a significantly larger body understand its impact on identity
Author: Catt, Jessie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 5443
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2018
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Purpose – This study explores the lived experience of having a significantly larger body and how this influences the way people manage their identity in a world where their appearance exposes them to stigma. The paper has a focus on permissive discourse which is defined as the discourses and strategies participants use to show the way in which they respond to cultural messages about obesity to enable them to continue to live in a larger body. The purpose of this study is to help researchers understand the causation and maintenance of obesity beyond the medical model and inform effective intervention to improve health and wellbeing of people with obesity. Methodology - This study used a qualitative research design, conducting semi-structured interviews with seven participants who self-identified as being significantly larger than average. The interviews were analysed thoroughly using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith & Osborn, 2008; Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). Results – Three main themes emerged that were relevant to the purpose of the study; 1.0 the larger identity is dominant and contaminating, 2.0 identity shifts and identity processes and 3.0 permissive strategies that enable living with a spoiled identity. The final theme encompasses seven related subthemes describing different strategies. These strategies varied depending on factors such as internalisation of stigma, acceptance of larger bodies and whether their identity was undergoing a profound shift. Within these strategies permissive discourse narratives were identified. Conclusion – This study provided a fresh understanding of the effect of having a larger spoiled identity, and the coping strategies individuals used to manage this. Identify Process Theory (Breakwell, 1986) was considered a helpful theory to understand the ways in which the individuals used and transitioned between strategies. Further research could explore the phenomenon of identity shift, to see whether it could be used to produce more positive discourses.
Supervisor: Gleeson, Kate Sponsor: Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral