The Weight of the World in Her Hands

  • Shelly Russell-MayhewEmail author
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


Body weight issues (e.g., obesity, eating disorders) are typically considered from an individual-level standpoint that emphasizes the role of physiological and intrapsychic processes such as metabolism or personality. In contrast to this dominant perspective, I highlight that body weight has prominent social, economic, and political influences and connotations. Weight issues are socially complex and at the core of our humanity. Weight is tangled up in multiple privileges of identity and interwoven with oppressions. When disciplines, such as psychology, are silent about weight bias, dominant discourses are reinforced that privilege the thin and fit. Through a case study, I explore the salience of weight in relation to a woman’s (Amy) intersecting identities and multiple social locations. I also highlight how weight is personal, professional, and political, even (and perhaps especially) in the counselling office. I advocate for socially just change processes and for weightism to be considered an identity worthy of consideration as a social justice issue.


Body weight Weight bias Social justice Body politics Intersecting identities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Werklund School of EducationUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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