Stoicism as a coping mechanism for stigmatizing experiences among low-income, higher-weight individuals

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University of New Brunswick


Weight and income stigma in healthcare experiences disproportionately affect higher-weight, low-income individuals. This thesis focuses on if and how stoicism is used to manage stigmatizing experiences among 11 higher-weight, low-income adults in New Brunswick. Participants took part in two semi-structured interviews that focused on healthcare experiences and both positive and negative places/spaces in New Brunswick. While stoicism is often seen as an ideology that is deployed by individuals to avoid negative emotions, the results from this thesis were that stoicism is more nuanced and complex. The participants each deployed some combination of stoic behaviours in response to stigmatizing experiences and places; however, no participants showed evidence of a stoic ideology as a coping mechanism. I argue that a stoic ideology is not developed ubiquitously among the participants, instead they showed evidence of stoic behaviours that can be understood through the uptake of fatphobic and neoliberal health messaging. These findings have major implications to understanding how stoicism can be deployed as separate and overlapping behaviours that still impact healthcare experiences.