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"It has literally been a lifesaver": The role of 'knowing kinship' in supporting fat women to navigate medical fatphobia

Kost, C. and Jamie, K. '"It has literally been a lifesaver": The role of 'knowing kinship' in supporting fat women to navigate medical fatphobia.', Fat Studies .


This article focuses on the development of online fat kinship in the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement. We draw upon 15 fat women’s experiences of their HAES community membership to explore the ways that fat kinship develops around fatphobic experiences, and how such kinship can facilitate the mitigation of the oppression faced by fat individuals. Building upon Davenport et al.’s (2018) notion of the “knowing community,” we suggest that sharing common experiences of medical fatphobia and developing tactics of resistance against it transforms “knowing communities” into what we call “knowing kinships.” These “knowing kinships” are characterised by mutual support and affective relationships. We stress the importance of sharing experiences on egalitarian social media platforms and argue that such sharing builds towards a supportive, safe, and affective kinship network of “knowing” members. We show that through this online-based kinship network, fat women not only share stories of medical fatphobia but also collaboratively develop tactics of “everyday resistance” against it. More specifically, this includes the identification of fat positive healthcare practitioners and the honing of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to optimise healthcare interactions and outcomes. These tactics, we suggest, are developed to convey a high degree of “cultural health capital” (Shim, 2010) which undermines assumptions of fat patients as apathetic and leaves less space for fatphobic treatment. Although we are focusing on kinship development in the HAES landscape, we conclude with some reflections on the application of our “knowing kinship” framework to other fat populations.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:15 September 2021
Date deposited:15 September 2021
Date of first online publication:No date available
Date first made open access:No date available

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