Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Human Sciences and Education

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Sizeism is often called the last acceptable form of prejudice in our social world. Weight discrimination has been widely documented in job searches, doctors’ offices, promotions, wage gaps, education, and even courtrooms. Despite decades of critical weight scholarship, little research has been done on fat higher education employees. Using the critical theory and the fat studies theoretical framework, this phenomenological study explores bias, prejudice, and discrimination experienced by fat student affairs professionals on college campuses. Four overarching research questions were identified and focused on the following topics: the limitations of physical space on college campuses, perceptions of available resources, stereotypes of fat bodies, and discrimination against fat employees. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted, and six salient themes emerged involving health consequences, lack of support, and prejudice in the workplace—all of which are leading to participants’ interest in leaving higher education. To combat this, participants noted that they practiced self-advocacy, formed support groups, and helped raise awareness around issues of fatness on campus. Participants also noted resources that should be added within higher education to increase job satisfaction. This study adds to the literature the experiences of fat student affairs professionals, as well as the policies and practices that impact their recruitment and retention within the field of higher education.

Committee Chair

Clayton, Ashley

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