Aberrant consumers: selfies and fat admiration websites

Woolley, Dawn ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6958-5658 (2016) Aberrant consumers: selfies and fat admiration websites. Fat Studies: an interdisciplinary journal of body weight and society, 6 (2). pp. 206-222. ISSN 2160-486X


In contemporary consumer culture, the healthy body acts as a sign-value for success, a strong work ethic and self-control; it is viewed as a productive resource and medium for creating “bodily capital.” But there is a conflict at the heart of consumer culture, between the imperative to work hard and delay gratification, and the consumer dictum of instant pleasure. Health demonstrates the individuals’ ability to balance the opposing forces of production and consumption. Overtly fat and thin bodies signify an inability to balance the conflict. In this article, I compare different forms of self-presentation on social networking sites and online platforms to explore sign-values of the body in contemporary consumer culture. Websites such as Fantasy Feeder offer advice on how to gain social security benefits, and use fast food industry “bundling techniques” to maximize calorie intake with minimal cost suggesting that fat admiration participants are disruptive to social and economic ideals. I use Marxist and psychoanalytical theories to interpret photographs of “unhealthy” bodies to build a theoretical model for potentially disruptive figures in capitalist society.

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