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Obesity Education as an Intervention to Reduce Weight Bias in Fashion Students


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The purpose of this work was to explore the effectiveness of an educational intervention aimed at reducing weight bias. Senior fashion students (n = 11) enrolled in a 16 week special topics course, “plus-size swimwear design”, completed assignments of selected obesity related educational readings and guided critical reflection. Student assignments were analyzed for qualitative evidence regarding weight bias. The Beliefs About Obese Persons scale was administered before and after the intervention with mean scores tested for statistical significance. The intervention increased student perceptions that genetic and environmental factors play an important role in the cause of obesity and decreased students’ negative stereotypes regarding obese consumers. Educational reading and critical reflection was effective in improving fashion students’ beliefs and stereotypes regarding obese people. This widely accessible and easily replicable program can serve as a model and springboard for further development of educational interventions to reduce weight bias among fashion related students.
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Journal of Education and Learning; Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
ISSN 1927-5250 E-ISSN 1927-5269
Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education
Obesity Education as an Intervention to Reduce Weight Bias in
Fashion Students
Deborah A. Christell
1 Department of Apparel Merchandising, Design & Textiles, Washington State University, Pullman, United
Correspondence: Deborah A. Christel, Department of Apparel Merchandising, Design & Textiles, Washington
State University, Pullman, United States. Tel: 1-509-335-7453. E-mail:
Received: January 18, 2016 Accepted: February 26, 2016 Online Published: March 17, 2016
doi:10.5539/jel.v5n2p170 URL:
The purpose of this work was to explore the effectiveness of an educational intervention aimed at reducing
weight bias. Senior fashion students (n = 11) enrolled in a 16 week special topics course, “plus-size swimwear
design”, completed assignments of selected obesity related educational readings and guided critical reflection.
Student assignments were analyzed for qualitative evidence regarding weight bias. The Beliefs About Obese
Persons scale was administered before and after the intervention with mean scores tested for statistical
significance. The intervention increased student perceptions that genetic and environmental factors play an
important role in the cause of obesity and decreased students’ negative stereotypes regarding obese consumers.
Educational reading and critical reflection was effective in improving fashion students’ beliefs and stereotypes
regarding obese people. This widely accessible and easily replicable program can serve as a model and
springboard for further development of educational interventions to reduce weight bias among fashion related
Keywords: obesity, weight bias, fashion, university, intervention, education
1. Introduction
American companies are faced with a growing number of obese consumers. A major challenge facing fashion
educators today is to adequately train future designers and merchandisers to develop apparel for overweight and
obese body shapes. Many apparel design and merchandising students harbor negative beliefs and stereotypes
regarding obese people, which may lead to negative attitudes and behaviors and a potential lack of desire to
serve the obese demographic (Christel, 2015; Rudd, Harmon, Heiss, & Buckworth, 2015). Despite evidence that
obesity is caused by multiple complex factors (Puhl & Brownell, 2003), fashion designers and merchandisers
often maintain negative stereotypes towards obese people, and characterize them as unattractive. Plus-size
women continually report experiencing frustration when clothes shopping and often feel discriminated against by
store clerks (Gruys, 2012; Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Faibisch, 1998). This bias and limited selection in
clothing primes obese women toward feeling ostracized and excluded from the fashion world (Gruys, 2012).
Evidence of weight bias in the fashion industry include little representation of plus-sized mannequins, lack of
appropriately sized dressing rooms, difficult to locate plus-sized merchandise, unsolicited clothing advice from
clerks and higher retail prices for plus-size clothing compared to smaller clothing sizes. The author considers the
experience of apparel design and merchandising students relevant because it is assumed that they will one day be
the “gatekeepers of the fashion industry” (Christel, 2014, p. 2). Of further interest was how education and critical
reflection had influence on changing weight bias. To inform this study, the author looked at weight bias and
weight bias interventions with college students studying in various disciplines including medical, nursing,
apparel design and merchandising.
Previous work in the area is limited to surveys that assess obesity bias among fashion students but no known
studies examine intervention programs. Christel (2014) suggested that perhaps fashion related undergraduate
students have greater levels of obesity bias because they believe obesity is a personal issue. Rudd, Harmon,
Heiss and Buckworth (2015) found a partial correlation whereas student’s appearance orientation increases, their
bias towards obese people also increases. The present study was designed to build on these earlier reports and
test the feasibility of reducing obesity bias among fashion related undergraduate students. The author Journal of Education and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
hypothesizes that obesity bias can be reduced among fashion students through questioning cultural assumptions
and myths about obesity. The key theory considered when designing the intervention program was the theory of
Social responsibility (Weiner, 1995). In Christel’s (2014) study, the qualitative comments suggested the root of
obesity bias lays in a belief of personal and social responsibility. Therefore, this study was designed to challenge
those deep seeded beliefs systems. The overarching Meta-objective of the study, is to improve the clothing
options and shopping experience for obese consumers. The author proposes that quality apparel design and
merchandising tasks cannot be achieved if there is bias towards the end user. Clothing is a necessity of life, just
like needing shelter, eating, drinking and sleeping. Clothing also has the ability to make a person feel confident,
smart and on the other hand can make a person feel inferior and out of place (Langer, 1959). The problem is that
obese people have limited clothing options compared to thinner people. This controls the opportunity for obese
people to use clothing as a means to influence their feelings. The purpose of this research is to reduce obesity
bias among those who may one day provide clothing for the mass population, which at this time in history
consists of many obese people.
1.1 Weight Bias
Evidence suggests that weight bias has intensified in the US (Latner & Stunkard, 2003) and is now reported to
occur at higher rates than racism (Tomiyama, 2014). Discrimination has important implications for the
well-being of overweight and obese individuals. The occurrence of weight bias has been documented across a
range of life domains from education settings (Fowler-Brown, Ngo, Phillips, & Wee, 2010), health care
environments (Gudzune, Bennet, Cooper, & Bleich, 2014), employment practices (Judge & Cable, 2011), and
the fashion industry (Colls, 2006).
The author speculates that weight bias may underline numerous decisions in the fashion industry and may be the
culprit for ill-fitting and limited selection in apparel for the obese. In essence, the results of weight bias are
dismal and require immediate attention. In the curriculum found in fashion departments, there is a lack of content
regarding the plus-size figure as well as interventions to decrease weight bias towards obese and plus-size
Weight bias, weight stigma and weight based discrimination are closely related concepts, and have often been
used interchangeably in the growing literature on the topics. According to Washington (2011) “Weight bias can
be defined as the inclination to form unreasonable judgments based on a person’s weight and weight stigma is
the social sign that is carried by a person who is a victim of prejudice and weight bias”. Furthermore, weight
based discrimination is defined as any restriction of individual rights, employment or academic opportunities, or
biases against overweight persons. For the purpose of this article, the definitions of weight bias, weight stigma
and weight based discrimination as defined by Washington are used (2011).
1.2 Reducing Weight Bias in Academia
Research on techniques to reduce weight bias in academic settings has been completed with dietetic students
(Puhl et al., 2009), nursing students (Poon & Tarrant, 2009), medical students (Poustchi, Saks, Piasecki, Hah, &
Ferrante, 2013), and fashion design and merchandising students (Christel, 2014; Rudd et al., 2014). These
studies conclude a dire need to increase educational interventions and awareness about weight bias in existing
curricula to ensure that negative assumptions about obese people do not adversely influence treatment practices
(Puhl et al., 2009).
A brief intervention was conducted among third and fourth year medical students (n = 64) to test its effectiveness
in reducing weight bias among the participants (Poustchi et al., 2013). The intervention consisted of students
watching a 17 minute video about weight bias in health care, after which they participated in interactive
discussion and shared personal experiences they’ve had with obese patients. Students were also administered
several pre and post surveys to evaluate bias, stigma, attitudes and beliefs about obese people. The intervention
successfully increased beliefs that environmental and genetic factors contribute to the cause of obesity as
opposed to blaming the patient (evaluated via the Beliefs about obese people scale [BAOP], Allison et al., 1999).
A study of undergraduate psychology students (n = 85) was conducted to evaluate an anti-weight bias
intervention. Diedrichs and Barlow (2011) assigned students to either an experimental group, comparison group
or a control group. The experimental group was exposed to a lecture on obesity, weight bias, and other
congruencies of weight stigma. The comparison group was exposed to a lecture on obesity and the behavioral
determinants of weight while the control group received no lecture. Students were assessed via surveys, one
week before, immediately after and three weeks after the intervention. Participants in the intervention group
were less likely to believe that weight is exclusively within individual control and were less likely to hold Journal of Education and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
negative attitudes towards overweight and obese people. The experimental group maintained more positive
beliefs about obese people three weeks post intervention. The comparison and control group reported no change
in weight bias (Diedrich & Barlow, 2011).
Evidence suggests that education and awareness are successful avenues to reduce weight bias and stigma. A
meta-analysis conducted by Lee, Ata, and Brannick (2014) examined 29 manuscripts that reported
approximations for weight-biased attitudes. The aim of the analysis was to evaluate the effectiveness of weight
bias interventions in reducing weight biased attitudes and beliefs. The authors determined that weight biased
interventions have a small to medium effect on weight biased attitudes. Furthermore, they found that “the student
population reported considerably large effect sizes than studies using samples of professionals” (p. 255). The
study suggests that college students are a preferable group with which to conduct interventions as they are more
open to adopting new attitudes. Several brief interventions to reducing weight bias were found to produce a
small, yet positive impact on weight biased attitudes and beliefs (Lee, Ata, & Brannick, 2014). Therefore, it was
hypothesized that a longer intervention would produce a larger impact on weight based attitudes.
No known educational intervention studies have been conducted with fashion design and merchandising students
addressing reduction in stigma and weight bias with consumers who are overweight or obese. The purpose of
this project was to test the feasibility and determine effect sizes of an easily replicable educational intervention
with validated instruments in reducing weight bias among fashion design and merchandising students.
2. Method
2.1 Participants
This research study was conducted by an assistant professor as part of a 16 week special topics class in a
University in the Western US during the Fall semester of 2014. A convenience sample of Senior level fashion
design and merchandising students participated in this study (n = 11). All students enrolled in the special topic
course were eligible to participate in the study. Students that were not enrolled in the course were excluded from
enrollment in the study. There were no restrictions based on demographic characteristics.
2.2 Procedures
Using a mixed methods approach, the intervention consisted of approximately 20 hours of reading educational
articles on obesity (Table 1) and submitting a critical reflection assignment (Table 2) about the reading and
personal experiences with encountering obese people. This study was determined to be exempt from further
review by the university Institutional Review Board.
In the course syllabus, the readings and critical reflection assignments (Table 1 and Table 2), were referred to as
Sensitivity Trainings to aid in the education of understanding of the difficulties of weight loss, the causes of
obesity and the emotional consequences of being stigmatized. The articles were related to weight bias, fat studies,
the Health At Every Size® paradigm, experiences of stigma, portrayals of obese individuals in the media, thin
privilege, discrimination and personal experiences of obese women. Articles were selected by the professor and
administered throughout the semester. The educational readings challenged the students’ perceptions regarding
common weight based stereotypes and cultural assumptions that are made about obese people. The required
reading, references and timing of the assignments within the 16 week semester are provided in Table 1.
Students were assigned one week to read the article and submit a three page critical reflection about the reading.
Reflection is an essential process for creating transformative experiences (Dewey, 2011) and thus implemented
as a method to foster learning. Reflection is suggested to enhance a students’ critical understanding of a topic
and their ability to assess their own values and goals. Critical reflection provides students with the opportunity to
examine and question their beliefs, opinions, and values. It involves observation, asking questions, and putting
facts, ideas, and experiences together to derive new meaning (Bringle & Hatcher, 1999). To facilitate reflection,
assignment guidelines were provided for each student to complete in conjunction with the reading. The guideline
that students were asked to follow and answer for each article is shown in Table 2. The process of reflection is
defined as, “thinking for an extended period by linking recent experiences to earlier ones in order to promote a
more complex and interrelated mental schema” (Dewey, 2011). Going one step further, students were asked to
critically reflect on the reading. Critical reflection is, “The process of analyzing, reconsidering and questioning
experiences within a broad context of issues” (Murray & Kujundic, 2005). Learning as a result of critical
reflection has been effective when the reflection assignments occur regularly and feedback is provided from the
instructor so students can improve analysis, practice reflection, and develop the capacity to engage in deeper and
broader reflection (Rich & Parker, 1995). The professor provided individual comments for each of the
assignment as occurred on a regular basis throughout the semester. Journal of Education and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
2.3 Data Categorization and Coding
First, the professor read students’ reflections and used open coding to identify key concepts in the data (Corbin
& Strauss, 2008). The professor identified categories including; themes related to recognition of thin privilege,
personal experiences of weight bias, stories of weight bias experienced by friends and family and student
experiences of learning through critical reflection. These categories formed the basis for the development of a
coding guide that was applied to the data. To achieve intercoder reliability, a master document of all reflection
assignments was created with a total of 165 pages of single spaced text. The unit of analysis was a paragraph (n =
1057) with an average of seven paragraphs per page. Three coders, the course professor and two graduate research
assistants, independently analyzed 20% of the sample (n = 33 pages) to achieve intercoder reliability. The pages
analyzed for intercoder reliability were chosen via an Excel random number generator. The content was first coded
according to the concepts identified by the professor including; groups of text based on themes related to
recognition of thin privilege, personal experiences of weight bias, stories of weight bias experienced by friends
and family and student experiences of learning through critical reflection.
Each of the following code descriptions includes the Krippendorff’s (2011) alpha reliability statistics of agreement,
or intercoder reliability, between categorization of groups of text. Responses for recognition of thin privilege were
coded with (1) (α = .858), first person experiences of weight bias was coded as (2) (α = .887) and, (3) was used to
code stories of experiences of weight bias heard from friends and families (α = .878). Lastly, learning experiences
through critical reflection were coded as (4) (α = .870). Of the four code descriptions, intercoder reliability resulted
in (α = .858) and higher, which is considered to be an accurate measure of reliability (Krippendorff’s, 2004). Once
coding was complete, the investigators met to discuss and reach consensus on the themes present under each code.
2.4 Measures
All participants completed the Beliefs About Obese People Scale (BAOP) which has been validated as a reliable
survey to measure weight bias pre- and post-intervention (Preventing Weight Bias: Helping without Harming in
Clinical Practice, 2016). This eight-item BAOP assesses the extent to which respondents believe that the
outcomes of obesity are under an individual’s control and that an obese person is to blame for their body e.g.,
“Most obese people eat more than non-obese people” and “obesity is rarely caused by a lack of willpower”
(Allison et al., 1991, p. 602). Respondents indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with each
statement using a six-point Likert scale (3 = I strongly disagree; +3 = I strongly agree). Lower scores indicate
more negative beliefs about obese bodies and that a person is to blame for being obese and, according to Weiner
(1995), that person is treated with anger, blame, stigmatization and social rejection. Higher scores indicate a
stronger belief that obesity is not under personal control. In other words, the higher the score, the less the blame
placed on the individual. If a person is not thought to be responsible for a condition, he or she is treated with
sympathy, pity, little blame, relative social acceptance and judged to be worthy of help (Weiner, 1995). In a prior
study, norms for the measure were reported for undergraduate students (mean = 19.4), graduate students (mean =
20.8) and for members of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (mean = 31.7). The BAOP scale
consists of eight items and has an alpha reliability range of 0.65 to 0.82 (Allison et al., 1991). Surveys were
analyzed using Statistical Product Service Solutions software (SPSS 9.4). Change in survey scores from before
to after the interventions was assessed for statistical significance using paired samples t tests. General bar graph
models was used to visually observe differences with mean scores for the scale. Differences were significant at p
< .05 unless otherwise states.
3. Results
3.1 BAOP Scores
Descriptive statistics are presented in Table 3. Higher mean impact scores indicate a greater belief that obesity is
driven by genetic and environmental causes, whereas lower means indicate the belief a person is obese is due to
lack of will power.
Week 1 scores indicate students had moderate to strong negative beliefs about obese people (M = 20.18, SD =
8.81). Post-intervention, week 16, scores are much higher (M = 33.36, SD = 9.65). The higher the score the
lower the bias and more positive beliefs about obese bodies. The variables are not skewed and normally
distributed. There is a significant difference in the mean scores (p = 0.001167). A paired two sample t-test
revealed that overtime the beliefs about obese people changed t(2.228) = -4.48, p < .05. Independently, each
student score changed in that their beliefs about obese people were more positive at the end of the intervention.
Individual student changes in BAOP scores from before and after 16 week intervention can be seen in Figure 1. Journal of Education and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
Figure 1. BAOP individual student scores
3.2 Critical Reflection
Students’ critical reflections reveal that the stereotypical thinking about obese people moved towards more
understanding and compassion during the 16 weeks. Students developed enlightening perspectives towards obese
people. Throughout the student reflections were stories of how they came to recognize thin privilege and weight
bias through personal experiences and experiences of friends and families. Reflections indicate students became
aware of and understood internalized oppression. Students also express the enjoyment experienced in reflecting.
3.3 Thin Privilege
The following quotes illustrate critical thinking and awareness of weight bias and internalized oppression. In one
reflection, a student wrote, “It would be so hard for me to accomplish anything in an environment that made me
feel like a problem.” This student expressed understanding of thin privilege by considering someone else’s lived
experience. Oppressed groups can’t fight effectively for equality when they believe the problem is their own
fault or that something is inherently wrong with them. The student expressed compassion and understanding of
the challenges experienced by obese people:
“I had never really stopped to consider my own privilege as being naturally thin before. How I am
easily able to find clothes in my size or approach new people and situations because I don’t have to fear
being judged for my weight. That I can play video games or work on the computer for long periods of
time, which are huge hobbies of mine, and not be called lazy for doing so. I think it’s important to make
people more knowledgeable about the privileges they have, to make them more aware of the hardships
others face on a day to day basis.”
3.4 Weight Bias through Personal Experiences and Experiences with Family and Friends
Another student realized how rampant weight bias is and reflected on the impact of her interpersonal relationship
with her mother. She stated:
“I heard about Southwest charging overweight people for two tickets as soon as it happened. My mom
was outraged, and I don’t blame her. She was so upset, and even though she isn’t overweight to the
extent she can’t fit in one spot, knowing that if she gained another 20 pounds she wouldn’t be able to
just sit in one seat, was heart breaking. No one should have that type of pressure, or feel uncomfortable
just because the size of their body. A lot of people blame the models for the pressure of being ‘stick
thin’, or skinny, but in all reality, it is everywhere. Airplane seating happens to be one more area.”
This student displays another reason that thin privilege is able to remain invisible. Her reflection exemplifies the
theory of internalized oppression (Freire, 2007). Simply the thought of her Mom losing the sense of entitlement Journal of Education and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
and no longer being able to sit in one seat was “heart breaking”. The student displays an understanding of how
weight bias negatively affects both the thin and the fat. The thin live in fear of becoming fat and the fat are in
fear of further discrimination.
For another student, he shared his ignorance in not being able to see that his roommate was being discriminated
against. He stated:
“Last year my roommate was plus-size, and all the time should would tell me things like, people don’t
like her, and how it’s hard to make friends. When hearing these things, I never considered it was
because of her weight. I thought it was just because people had different interest, stuff like that.
Reading these articles, I realized that what she was saying was really true. The culture around us shapes
the way we think so much so that we discriminate again plus-size people without even realizing it.”
3.5 Experience with Reflection
Concluding remarks illustrate how learning about the ways obese people are displayed in the media will help in
future careers. One student states, “In conclusion, this article was helpful. It is good for us to walk into the industry
with knowledge of how the obese demographic is currently represented and with the tools to change it!” Another
student commented on the same article and stated:
“I think it’s important to reflect on the stereotypes that are ingrained in our subconscious and make sure
there is fair media exposure to decrease the prevalence of the discrimination of people affected by
obesity. It is also important in reshaping our standards of beauty.”
Further comments demonstrate the effectiveness of critical reflection in enhancing student thought about cultural
issues. The following students contemplated:
“I know I am a completely different person when I am thinner. I am more outgoing and just happier.
Why is that? Society has formed the way we think and what beauty is supposed to look like. I think the
biggest problem is where do we fix this way of thinking… can we or is it too late? But my weight is not
the problem. My attitude towards my weight is the problem. The number on the scale is no reflection of
who I am as a person, the accomplishments I’ve made, the relationships I’ve built, or the choices I’ve
4. Discussion
A 16 week intervention, as part of a case study involving a plus-size consumer, with reading and reflection was
associated with a significant decrease in bias towards obese people. Our research presents some of the first
studies to evaluate a 16-week intervention among college students to reduce weight bias. Although the statistical
intervention effects were moderate in size, the results are promising in light of the relatively small sample size.
This intervention, consisting of reading easily accessible articles and reflecting on the material, increased the
beliefs that genetic and environmental factors play an important role in the cause of obesity and decreased
negative stereotypes about obese people among fashion students. This study confirms prior research that
changing attributions of causality and controllability of weight can improve beliefs and stereotypes towards
obese people. Students were capable of understanding weight bias and complex concepts such as thin privilege
and internalized oppression.
It is important for our society to understand privilege and oppression because it is pervasive, restricting, and
hierarchical and the dominant group has the power to define reality (Bacon, 2010). Oppression is entwined
throughout societal institutions and imbedded within individual consciousness, often termed internalized
oppression. The restrictive aspects of oppression is that the structural limits significantly shape a person’s life
changes and sense of possibility. By not having access to some privileges, lives of obese people are limited.
Furthermore, the dominant or privileged groups benefit and often in unconscious ways at the expense of the
subordinated groups. Awareness of the privileges is one approach to dismantling the oppression.
Internalized oppression is seen when a group of people are targeted, discriminated against, or oppressed over a
period of time, they often internalize the myths and misinformation that society communicates about them and
their group. When a person experiences internalized oppression they are said to believe the myths and make it
part of their self-image. Internalized oppression can cause people to feel, usually unconsciously, that in some
way they are inherently not as worthy, capable, beautiful, good or intelligent as others outside their group (Freire,
2014). Privilege and oppression can be difficult subjects to discuss and by allowing students to independently
read and critically reflect, they demonstrated the ability to understand and change their previously negative
opinions and perspective towards obese people. Journal of Education and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
Highly rated by students, in end of term evaluations, this intervention provides educators with tools to measure
beliefs about obesity in students and to encourage critical thought in how to approach obese consumers with
sensitivity. Incorporating this intervention into fashion related classes may be the best way to ensure that all
students receive this training. Further research is needed to measure whether the intervention is more effective
for certain sub-groups.
4.1 Applications
The author suggests universities add a component devoted to education of weight bias and stigma towards obese
people. Past research has shown that weight bias is prevalent in a multitude of avenues and offering education
provides the opportunity for growth. Professionals in the fashion field, both academia and industry, can employ a
variety of strategies to help reduce weight stigma and improve attitudes. Fashion professionals can make a
difference by becoming aware of their own biases, developing empathy, and working to address the needs and
concerns of obese people.
4.2 Limitations
While limited in scope and size, this study’s success in using a relatively simple and widely accessible
intervention and validated survey makes this program conducive to replication and implementation by fashion
educators. While these findings are promising, it is unknown if changes in beliefs are sustainable and if they
represent actual changes in actual behavior. Many statisticians feel that a small sample size is not appropriate to
test various statistical assumptions. Although our sample is small, our p-value achieved “statistical significance”,
p < 0.05. The generalizability of the study results are limited and further, larger scale research is needed.
The author would like to thank the students who participated in this research for without them it would not be
possible. The author would also like to express gratitude to her mentor, Dr. Linda Arthur Bradly for her guidance
and assistance in proof reading the article and her Graduate Research Assistant, Susan Dunn.
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Appendix A
Table 1. Required student reading list
Training #
Article/Book reference
1 1
Bacon, L. (2010). Reflections on thin privilege and responsibility. Health at Every Size:
The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. Dallas, TX: BenBella.
2 2
Solovay, A., & Rothblum, E. (2009). Introduction. In E. Rothblum, & S. Solovay
(Eds.), The Fat Studies Reader (pp. 1-7). New York, NY: New York University Press.
3 4
Bliss, K. Redefine the Problem So It Has a Solution. In Don’t Weight, Eat Healthy &
Get Moving NOW! (pp. 17-23). Carlsbad, CA: Gurze Books.
4 5
White, F. (2004). Identifying and Treating Exercise Resistance from a Depth
Perspective (pp. 58-60). Health at Every Size.
5 6
Bernstein, B., & St. John, M. (2009). The Roseanne Benedict Arnolds. In E. Rothblum,
& S. Solovay (Eds.), The Fat Studies Reader (pp. 263-269). New York, NY: New York
University Press.
6 8
Williams, R. (2000). Conquering the fear of a fat body: The journey towards myself. In
Ophira (Eds.), Body Outlaw. Seattle, WA: Seal Press.
7 9
Johnson, C. A. (2005). Personal Reflections on Bias, Stigma, Discrimination, and
Obesity. In K. D. Brownell, R. M. Puhl, M. B. Schwarts, & L. Rudd (Eds.), Weight
Bias, Nature, Consequences, and Remedies (pp. 175-190). New York, NY: The
Guilford Press.
8 11
Huff, J. L. (2009). Access to the Sky. In E. Rothblum, & S. Solovay (Eds.), The Fat
Studies Reader (pp. 176-185). New York, NY: New York University Press.
9 13
nes_PortrayalObese.pdf.”Yale Rudd Center (2013): Web. 10 Aug. 2014.
10 15
Christel, D. (2014). It’s your fault you’re fat: Judgements of responsibility and social
conduct in the fashion industry. Clothing Cultures. 1(3). Journal of Education and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
Table 2. Critical reflection document outline
Reflection Submission Outline
1. Article title and Author
2. State THREE main points of the reading
3. Identify a quote or passage that struck you the most and explain why:
4. Describe how this reading relates to you personally (e.g., applies to your own
experience or that of people you know or events that you have observed) and/or relates to
your professional aspirations or experiences (including how the material relates to
information on the topic presented in other classes):
5. What personal assumptions of yours were challenged?
6. After reading this article, did you learn an alternative ways of thinking about the topic?
What are they?
7. Any other comments or thoughts?
Table 3. Mean score before and after intervention
t-Test: Paired Two Sample Mean Score
Before After
Mean 20.18 33.36
SD 8.81 9.65
Variance 77.76 93.05
Observations (n) 11 11
P (T < = t) two-tail 0.001167
Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s), with first publication rights granted to the journal.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
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... Moreover, like other future professionals (e.g., preservice teachers, premed students; Glock, Beverborg, & Müller, 2016;Phelan et al., 2015), fashion and merchandising students' beliefs toward individuals with large bodies (Christel, 2014;Rudd et al., 2015) are quite negative, which may contribute to the segregation and misrepresentation of plus-size apparel. Christel (2016) suspects that weight bias is an underlying mechanism for decision-making in the fashion industry as many designers and merchandisers harbor negative stereotypes toward obese individuals, finding them unattractive and inferior to thinner bodies. Thus, it appears that needs are not being met in this population because, as Gunn (2016) suggested, designers and retailers do not want curvy women wearing their clothing because they might not conform to traditional standards of beauty. ...
... Gruys (2012) suggests that the constant limitation of merchandise for obese women can lead to feelings of exclusion from the fashion world. Christel (2016) adds that the lack of body diversity in mannequins, inadequate dressing room space, and higher retail prices for plus-size apparel also contribute to feelings of being ostracized. ...
... Awareness of weight bias or weight-based discrimination in the fashion industry seems to be growing (Christel, 2016). Plus-size model Emme has developed "Fashion Without Limits" (Emme Style, 2019) in conjunction with Syracuse University to provide design curricula geared toward Size 12 and larger. ...
Women, regardless of size, should have access to functional, fashionable, and affordable exercise apparel. Grounded in Lamb and Kallal’s Functional, Expressive, and Aesthetic Consumer Needs Model, we explored (a) women’s perceptions of plus-size exercise apparel and shopping experiences and (b) plus-size exercise apparel at online retailers. In Study 1, women reported their shopping behaviors, satisfaction, affect, and feedback for designer and retailers. In Study 2, availability, cost, and color variety of plus-size exercise T-shirts were documented at online retailers. Images of product models and sizing chart variations were examined. Women were generally dissatisfied with apparel-related functionality, fashionability, and cost. Plus-size exercise T-shirts at online retailers were limited in color variety and size availability and cost more than straight-size apparel. Unrealistic models and wide sizing variations appear problematic. Advocacy and action are needed to provide women with larger bodies’ equitable access to functional, expressive, aesthetic, and affordable exercise apparel.
... Each item is rated as "strongly agree", "agree", "neutral", "disagree", and "strongly disagree". Positive items (2,4,7,10,11,14,15,17,20,22,25,27) are graded from 1 to 5 starting with "strongly agree" option, whereas negative items (1,3,5,6,8,9,12,13,16,18,19,21,23,24,26) are scored from 5 to 1 starting with "strongly agree" option. Minimum and maximum scores that can be obtained from this 27-item scale range between 27 and 135. ...
... In a study conducted with fashion design students, 11 fashion design students were given lessons on obesity for 16 weeks and then they were asked to design swimsuits for large size women. At the end of the study, negative stereotypes of students against individuals with obesity were observed to decrease (24). In another study conducted with 305 students studying in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Fine Arts, students were found to be biased against individuals with obesity (25). ...
Full-text available
Background: The obesity bias is defined as negative attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, and decisions towards individuals whose overweight or obese. Objectives: To identify obesity biases, attitudes, behaviors and to determine the changes in these biases, attitudes, and behaviors expected to take place through educational interventions to be conducted. Methods: The study was carried out with 57 volunteer female students studying in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Başkent University. After determining the obesity bias levels of the students who participated in the study, which was conducted at 2-week intervals and consisted of 5 stages, two interventions that involved going on a diet for a certain time and watching video films that aimed to encourage the students to establish empathy for individuals with obesity were conducted. Results:The mean pre-interventional GAMS-27 score of the students participating in the study was 76.98±9.74, and it decreased to 72.56±10.75 after the interventions. Although the mean scores obtained from the scale in both cases were in the range of bias-propensity, the difference between them was found to be significant (p <0.05). While the mean scale score of the students who stated that they were not biased against obesity was 78.4±10.12 before the intervention, it was found to decrease to 73.7±11.77 after the intervention, and this decrease was determined to be statistically significant (p <0.05). Conclusions: Obesity bias is a phenomenon that is also seen among health students. This state can be reduced with various interventions, and thus the healthcare professionals who will serve in the future will have an awareness of the issue.
... Students read and reflected on 10 articles related to weight bias, thin privilege, fat studies, the Health At Every Size paradigm, personal experiences of stigma and discrimination, and portrayals of "obese" individuals in the media (Christel 2016). Students anonymously submitted assignments through an online learning system. ...
... Postintervention scores revealed a significant reduction in weight bias. Each student's score changed, and their beliefs about "obese" people were more positive at the end of the semester (Christel 2016). We demonstrated the effectiveness of FFP in action, at the same time supporting students' personal growth and development. ...
Full-text available
This article examines the use of fat pedagogy in fashion design, a traditionally thin-centric discipline. College seniors engaged in a swimsuit design project based on Fat Fashion Pedagogy, a framework developed for the course that draws on critical feminist and narrative pedagogies. In this case, students completed self-assessments of weight bias, engaged in reflection, interacted directly with fat models, and conducted focus groups. Students experiencing the Fat Fashion Pedagogy, detailed here, evidenced less weight bias at the end of the term. Fat Fashion Pedagogy employs overarching concepts that can be applied within other disciplines, especially those that support thin-centric ideals.
The authors explored the natural language use of students enrolled in a university fat studies course using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software. Analytic thinking and clout primarily characterized students’ writings. Cognitive processes accounted for the greatest proportion of word use. Use of social words increased while biological processes word use decreased over time. Within affect words, positive emotions predominated negative emotions. Positive emotions decreased and negative emotions increased during the middle of the course, but positive and negative emotions increased and decreased respectively by course completion. Results are discussed as they reflect the goals of fat pedagogy.
Full-text available
Fashion and health-related industries communicate and endorse a thin body ideal contributing to obesity bias and affecting services to clients. Obesity bias was examined among 200 undergraduate students in these majors and other majors, to justify developing bias intervention programmes to create tolerant and inclusive professionals in fields that regularly interact with the public and with relative strangers. An online survey assessed obesity bias, appearance orientation and evaluation, weight satisfaction and shape satisfaction, to see which variables led to bias.Fashion and retail studies majors reported the lowest obesity bias when compared to health-related and other majors had the most positive attitudes towards obese persons and reported higher appearance orientation. A partial correlation overall revealed that as a student's appearance orientation increases, their positive attitudes towards obese people decreased and their obesity bias increased. We believe that cognitive intervention programmes are warranted to reduce bias in these pre-professionals.
Full-text available
Examining the beliefs in the fashion industry surrounding the obese is critical to understanding discrimination issues and the resultant fit and sizing issues for plus-size consumers. The fashion industry offers certain styles in limited sizing, which in turn structures our society in such a way that only certain sizes can participate in choosing and wearing fashionable clothing. Therefore, the need to examine the people’s beliefs who will work in this industry is critical to restructuring the sizing, fit and discriminatory issues experienced by fat consumers. Understanding these beliefs among student designers, or the ‘gatekeepers’ of the fashion industry, may explain why plus-size women repeatedly report feeling discriminated against by the fashion industry and have difficulty finding clothing in styles, colours and fits they desire. The results of the study indicate that fashion design and merchandising students have strong negative beliefs about obese people. This article investigates the reasoning for such disdain towards obese bodies in the fashion industry and hopes to rectify the situation by offering suggestions to normalize fat bodies and incorporate information about plus-size consumers into fashion design and apparel merchandising courses.
In an era of information overload, our need to learn how to critically evaluate the growing flood of information has never been greater. Critical Reflection showcases the role of reason in a world saturated by media-enhanced persuasion and complex scientific and technological jargon. Drawing from the classic philosophical texts, this engaging textbook on the art of analyzing arguments is also relevant to today's undergraduates in its use of real-life examples and exercises drawn mainly from media and politics. Malcolm Murray and Nebojsa Kujundzic cover the standard subjects in a one-semester course on critical thinking, offering ways to analyze arguments in the following areas: * language use * acceptability conditions for truth * categorical and propositional logic * induction * causal claims * probability reasoning * analogical reasoning * an in-depth analysis of informal fallacies Critical Reflection further distinguishes itself with in-depth answers to chapter exercises that are incorporated directly into the authors' detailed discussions. This is an ideal textbook to help professors foster autonomous thinking among their students.
Weight bias exists across many important life domains, necessitating interventions designed to reduce weight-biased attitudes and beliefs. Though the effectiveness of weight bias interventions has been questioned, to our knowledge no meta-analysis of these interventions has been conducted. This meta-analysis evaluated the impact of weight bias interventions on weight-biased attitudes and beliefs and explored potential moderators. Interventions were eligible if they used an adult sample and a validated measure of weight-biased attitudes, which resulted in the inclusion of 30 studies represented in 29 articles. A random effects approach using inverse weights resulted in a mean effect size estimate of g = −0.33 (lower scores indicate less weight bias) for both attitudes and beliefs. Intervention type, publication type, and population type were not significant moderators but demonstrated noteworthy trends. Results reveal a small, positive effect of weight bias interventions on weight-biased attitudes and beliefs and provide useful information for future interventions.
Objective To examine the association between patient-perceived judgments about weight by primary care providers (PCP) and self-reported weight loss. Methods We conducted a national internet-based survey of 600 adults engaged in primary care with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 in 2012. Our weight loss outcomes included attempted weight loss and achieved ≥ 10% weight loss in the last 12 months. Our independent variable was “feeling judged about my weight by my PCP.” We created an interaction between perceiving judgment and PCP discussing weight loss as an independent variable. We conducted a multivariate logistic regression model adjusted for patient and PCP factors using survey weights. Results Overall, 21% perceived that their PCP judged them about their weight. Respondents who perceived judgment were significantly more likely to attempt weight loss [OR 4.67, 95%CI 1.96-11.14]. They were not more likely to achieve ≥ 10% weight loss [OR 0.87, 95%CI 0.42-1.76]. Among patients whose PCPs discussed weight loss, 20.1% achieved ≥ 10% weight loss if they did not perceive judgment by their PCP as compared to 13.5% who perceived judgment. Conclusions Weight loss discussions between patients and PCPs may lead to greater weight loss in relationships where patients do not perceive judgment about their weight.
Drawing on participant observation at a women's plus-size clothing store, “Real Style,” this article draws on the unique experiences of plus-sized women in their roles as workers, managers, and customers, to examine how mainstream beauty standards, body-accepting branding, and customers' diverse feeling rules shape service interactions. Despite branding that promoted prideful appreciation for “Real” bodies, the influence of these body-accepting discourses was constrained by women's internalization of mainstream fat stigma, resulting in an environment characterized by deep ambivalence toward larger body size. This ambivalence allowed hierarchies between women to be reified, rather than dissolved; although plus-sized employees and customers expressed gratitude to have Real Style as a “safe space” to work and shop, workers experienced gender segregation of jobs, and thinner employees were privileged with special tasks. Further, managers and white (but not black or Latina) customers used body-disparaging “fat talk” to elicit workers' emotional labor while confronting thinner workers for defying aesthetic expectations. This research offers a more nuanced understanding of the ties between aesthetic labor and emotional labor, while highlighting some of the factors that prevent stigmatized groups from successfully reclaiming status within consumer contexts.