Activity: Participating in or organising an event › Organisation and participation in conference
“Virtues of Health Management”
How to dismantle the perceived incapability of the overweight body
In researching a health problem, notions of what constitutes a healthy body naturally evolve. National strategies on how to shape bodies that deviate from a desired norm, operate on (at least) two simultaneous thriving arenas; the health arena and the arena of the virtuous and productive citizen. Some bodies carry visual traits of non-healthiness, and an increasing number already from the childhood. The overweight child receives a great deal of both health and societal attention in the attempt to prevent health related diseases and financial burdens on state budgets. The overweight body can be said to communicate to its surroundings through the voluminous body markers, which in a society of abundance no longer signify wealth but rather lack of control, irresponsibility towards the common good and ignorance on how to lead a healthy life.
The normativity of the overweight body as being insufficient in leading the healthy life and contributing to the common good of welfare creates a culturally embedded perception of a profound incapability around overweight bodies. A societal health problem, and accordingly solution, is born: In the name of prevention and sustainability of welfare, overweight children must learn to control themselves and become responsible citizens.
Practices, that seek to influence the undesirable trajectory of the overweight children’s pre-sumably heavy loaded pathway to the future, affect the overweight children’s self-perception on two conflicting terms. First of all, the overweight children adopt the understanding of re-presenting a severe health problem as their first immediate reaction to their surroundings. They formulate and reproduce the discourse of the virtuous citizen who is capable of showing responsibility and obtained control by taking actions towards leading a healthy life. But subsequently, overweight children are also capable of expressing an everyday life where overweight not necessarily represents a hindrance to a healthy lifestyle: An everyday life of being able despite deviant body markers.
The paper presents how visual methods of photo elicitation interviews facilitate a creative research process, as well as producing narratives of everyday life experiences. These, I argue, question the prevailing discourse of the overweight body as not being able.
This paper builds on the findings of the Ph.D. study “The Healthy Overweight Children” (From, 2012).