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Type: Journal article
Title: Bodies mothers and identities: rethinking obesity and the BMI
Author: Warin, M.
Turner, K.
Moore, V.
Davies, M.
Citation: Sociology of Health & Illness, 2008; 30(1):97-111
Publisher: Blackwell Publ Ltd
Issue Date: 2008
ISSN: 0141-9889
Statement of
Megan Warin, Karen Turner, Vivienne Moore, Michael Davies
Abstract: Despite the intense level of attention directed towards obesity, there has been limited success in addressing the rising rates of this public health phenomenon. This paper argues that current approaches to obesity fail to consider concepts of embodiment, and in particular, that gendered and class-based experiences of embodiment are ignored in health promotion practices and policies. Drawing on Bourdieu's concept of habitus, this ethnographic study sought to locate obesity within the biographies and everyday experiences of two groups of women from differing socio-economic settings. Rather than identify with the clinical category of obesity, these women constructed identities that were refracted through a gendered and classed habitus, and in particular, through their role as mothers. Food provision and practices were central to constructs of mothering, and these relational identities were at odds with the promotion of individual behavioural changes. Moreover, these women's daily lives were shaped by different class-based aspects of habitus, such as employment. In demonstrating the ways in which obesity is enmeshed in participants’ taken-for-granted, everyday practices, we problematise the universality of health-promotion messages and highlight the integral role that the critical theory of habitus has in understanding the embodiment of obesity.
Keywords: Humans; Obesity; Body Mass Index; Cohort Studies; Mothers; Body Image; Anthropology, Cultural; Social Class; Adult; Victoria; Female; Interviews as Topic
RMID: 0020080104
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01029.x
Appears in Collections:Public Health publications

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