Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
The phrase, “Toward Adipositivity” in my title is derived from an episode of the Indian fat-activist podcast, Fat.So? (2019-2022). Photographer Substantia Jones presents her fat-activist artwork, “The Adipositivity Project.” Her method involves photographing revealing, sometimes nude, pictures of fat women, and then posts them to the Internet. Jones’ goal is to reclaim the pejorative connotations associated with the word “fat,” to show that fat women’s bodies are beautiful and worthy of artistic inspiration. The arrival of fat activism in Bollywood cinema circa 2010 resulted from the 1991 neo-liberalization of India. The nation experienced a subsequent rise of feminism in civil society, and thus saw the importation of related identity political considerations from Western culture. Bollywood fat activism developed in response to almost two decades of imitating Hollywood featuring thin actresses as protagonists, while relegating fat actresses to insignificant and unattractive roles. In this dissertation, I apply Fat Studies to Bollywood and podcasting. My dissertation centers on two mass mediated sites: weight-based discrimination against women in the 2015 Bollywood film, Dum Laga ke Haisha, and the early fat-activist podcast, Fat.So?, which began in 2019. I conclude that podcasting is a more effective medium than Bollywood cinema for delivering a radical fat-activist message. The latter mass mediated form of communication represents a multiplicity of nuanced perspectives, across a wider array of the population. I employ intersectional theory to study the interaction of weight as an identity political variable with gender, class, and caste. Finally, I lay out the relationship between the fat-activist film and podcast and the recent rise of non-diet nutrition-based podcasting in India.
Available for download on Tuesday, October 22, 2024
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