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‘It’s worse for women and girls’: Negotiating embodied masculinities through weight-related talk

Monoghan, Lee; Malson, Helen


Lee Monoghan

Helen Malson
Associate Professor in Social Psychology


Lee Monoghan

Rachel Colls

Bethan Evans


Numerous critical analyses have already established the profoundly gendered nature of normative body ‘ideals’ and weight-management practices in Western cultures. Such studies have, amongst other things, elucidated how body dissatisfaction, ‘dieting’ and other weight-loss practices are discursively constituted as both feminised and feminising. Critiquing the over-determined normativity of thinness as a key index of femininity, these analyses have also highlighted how fatness, as abjected flesh, is equated with the feminine and how, in the context of an alleged ‘obesity crisis’, ‘fat’ men, as well as women and children, risk stigmatisation. An emergent research literature now explores men’s engagement with body ‘ideals’, weight-management and ‘body projects’ more generally. This article builds on that work, exploring the negotiation of embodied masculinities in the weight-related talk of men who risked being labelled ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’. Drawing on interviews (N=37), the study illustrates how ‘big’ men attempted to shield their threatened masculine identities by contrasting their own bodily bigness, corporeal concerns and embodied practices with those of women and girls. Also attentive to sexualities, ethnicity and class, this article illustrates the context-specific, intersectional and relational (hierarchical) nature of embodied masculinities and body projects in these ‘epidemic’ times.


Monoghan, L., & Malson, H. (2014). ‘It’s worse for women and girls’: Negotiating embodied masculinities through weight-related talk. In L. Monoghan, R. Colls, & B. Evans (Eds.), Obesity, Discourse and Fat Politics. London: Routledge.

Acceptance Date Jan 7, 2014
Publication Date Apr 4, 2014
Deposit Date Aug 13, 2015
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Book Title Obesity, Discourse and Fat Politics
ISBN 9780415749312
Keywords masculinities, gender, obesity discourse, fatness, stigma, body image
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Obesity, Discourse and Fat Politics on 04 April 2014, available online:


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