Journal of Media Literacy Education Pre-Prints

Document Type

Research Article


Situated within research on youth, participatory politics, and media framing of obesity, this study examined how undergraduate students in a media literacy course engaged with obesity discourse as a nexus of civic participation. Twenty-nine students enrolled in the course identified frames of obesity in plus-size model Tess Holliday’s Instagram posts surrounding her controversial Cosmopolitan cover in 2018. Analysis of these frames – self-validation, injustice of fat-shaming and stigmatization, influences of Instagram celebrities on fat embodiment, and health stereotypes of obese individuals – enabled the students to understand activist responses to accepted body norms and moral values facilitating weight bias. In efforts to reframe obesity within their social media communities, the students created and shared online media content, prioritizing societal influences in obesity representation. In this process, students cultivated participatory practices of comprehending and sharing (social) media framings of bodies and health. Hence, this article offers contextualized understandings into youth digital engagement learning.


This work was supported by the European Commission under the grant Media Literacy for Living Together (LC – 00865164 – MILT). Also, the author would like to express special thanks to Professor Lee F. Monaghan for commenting on an earlier draft of this paper and sharing generously his knowledge of obesity research. Finally, the author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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