Social inclusion and the Fatosphere: the role of an online weblogging community in fostering social inclusion
Overweight and obesity are one of the most salient issues within society today, and the stigmatisation of overweight individuals is prevalent and widespread. Utilising interviews with 44 individuals who blog within an online fat acceptance community known as the Fatosphere, participants' perceptions of inclusion and exclusion were examined within their offline and online environments. Additionally, the effect this had on their offline lives was examined. Participants described a profound sense of exclusion within their offline lives through three agencies: the medicalisation of 'fatness', the weight loss industry and the media, which echoed descriptions of moral judgement. Furthermore, a sense of inclusion was described within the Fatosphere through the protection and support that they found within this 'safe space'. The effects of the Fatosphere influenced their lives in both negative and positive ways, allowing them to better deal with stigma and discrimination, but sometimes effecting their offline relationships in a negative manner. The Fatosphere provides a unique opportunity for corpulent individuals to engage in a community that is removed from the prominent weight-related discourse within modern society.