Weight stigma at a university : a study of policy, media, and student experiences with implications for improving weight-inclusivity
Media images of and text concerning people who are overweight or obese frequently perpetuate weight stigma. Additionally, limited literature exists on policy and weight stigma. This qualitative study explored college student perspectives of body messaging at a public university, and investigated university policy and images of people used on university webpages for having weight inclusive or weight stigmatizing body messaging. Body messaging included images of people and text. The study engaged a sample of seven participants through photo-elicitation to collect body messages the university used in print materials and social media platforms. Participants then completed a questionnaire about each photo. Additionally, the researchers collected additional images of people from the university webpages. From the 27 participant-generated photos, over a third did not have size diversity or were placed in non-prominent locations on campus. Almost three-fourths of the 65 images of people collected by the researchers from the university webpages, did not include size diversity. Based upon the research findings, recommendations are provided for university constituents on how to promote weight inclusive environments through policy, programs, and practice.