Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Whaley, Rachel

Second Advisor

Barber, Kristen


This project asks how fat stigma impacts customers' and retail workers' experiences shopping and working in plus-size clothing stores. Interview data highlight how customers and workers engage in emotional labor, emotion work, and aesthetic labor to manage emotions about the body and fat stigma. Moreso, it explores the commercialization of the body-positivity movement by analyzing the use of body-positive branding and marketing. A content analysis explores the website and social media presence of a contemporary plus-size store, Torrid, which is an example of a company engaging in body-positive branding and marketing. While results vary between the main website and social media accounts, they reveal that Torrid engages with customers in an inclusive body-positive tone and with intimate/friendly language via their marketing; however, Torrid does not fulfil its body-positive intentions when it comes to body and size inclusivity of its models. Interview data also highlight that customers do not find plus-size retail stores to be inclusive and body-positive spaces. Customers report they lack physical accessibility, affordable clothing, stock of extended sizes, or clothing for individuals with diverse gender identities. Customers and workers engage in emotion work, emotional labor, and aesthetic labor to negotiate between style, affordability, and accessibility.




This dissertation is only available for download to the SIUC community. Current SIUC affiliates may also access this paper off campus by searching Dissertations & Theses @ Southern Illinois University Carbondale from ProQuest. Others should contact the interlibrary loan department of your local library or contact ProQuest's Dissertation Express service.