Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Media Studies

Reader 1

Jennifer Friedlander

Reader 2

Carlin Wing

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


In 2019, fat positivity is transcending feminist discourse and establishing itself in American culture as a popularized social justice movement. Fat positive activists, actors, and performers have become household names and the representation of fat women in the media has multiplied and diversified. Following the rise of what Sarah Banet-Weiser criticizes as “popular feminism” is an increased awareness and commodification of popular feminist ideals in media and television. As the fat positive movement, which dates back to the 1960s, has entrenched itself in popular feminism, notions of self-esteem and self-confidence have become central to numerous marketing campaigns and to television. With this heightened visibility of a fat, feminized body comes new grounds for analysis of media representation. Specifically, the ways in which recent representations of fat women in television reflect popular feminist ideals surrounding whiteness, femininity, sexuality, and the male gaze. This essay will analyze three contemporary television series that advertise to post-feminist audiences to argue that ostensibly fat-positive representations on screen prioritize a fat visibility that is limited to white, cis gender, able bodies and perpetuate a cosmetic panopticon which controls, surveils, and enforces practices of shame and self-discipline on fat bodies.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.