More than meets the eye. Feminist poststructuralism as a lens towards understanding obesity

Authors

  • Megan Aston,

    1. Megan Aston PhD RN Associate Professor School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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  • Sheri Price,

    1. Sheri Price PhD RN Nurse Scientist IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and Adjunct Faculty, Lawrence S. Bloomberg, Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Sara Frances Louise Kirk,

    1. Sara Frances Louise Kirk PhD Canada Research Chair Health Services Research, Applied Research Collaborations for Health, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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  • Tarra Penney

    1. Tarra Penney BSc MA Health Promotion (Candidate) Research Associate Applied Research Collaborations for Health, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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M. Aston: e-mail: megan.aston@dal.ca

Abstract

aston m., price s., kirk s.f.l. & penney t. (2011) More than meets the eye. Feminist poststructuralism as a lens towards understanding obesity. Journal of Advanced Nursing 68(5), 1187–1194.

Abstract

Aim.  This paper presents a discussion of the application of a feminist poststructuralist-based theoretical framework as an innovative approach towards understanding and managing the complex health issue of obesity.

Background.  Obesity is often viewed as a lifestyle choice for which the individual is blamed. This individualistic, dichotomous and behavioural perspective only allows for a narrow understanding of obesity and may even lead to misperceptions, stereotypes and marginalization of clients experiencing obesity. Feminist poststructuralism can provide a critical lens to understand the social construction of obesity and the broader environmental and cultural contexts of this health issue.

Data sources.  The theoretical framework draws from the writings of Foucault, Scott, Butler, Cheek, and Powers, published between 1983 and 2005.

Discussion.  The concepts of discourse analysis and power relations are explored and discussed in a clear manner so that nurses can easily apply this framework to their practice as they observe, question, analyse, critique and assess the care experienced by clients who are obese. The concepts of personal and social beliefs, values and stereotypes are also discussed and examples of how to apply them in practice are provided.

Implications.  It is imperative that we continue to question our everyday nursing practices as we work to support clients, especially those who feel marginalized. This focus on power relations and reflective practice can give direction to new possibilities for change in obesity management.

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