Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

William Buhrow, PsyD

Second Advisor

Amber Nelson, PsyD

Third Advisor

Joy Mauldin, PsyD


People who live in larger bodies have unique experiences which may influence their overall wellbeing. While primary care providers may choose to focus on weight and physical health, there are numerous emotional consequences to being fat, including social stigma and shame. Unfortunately, there are few studies researching the experience of fat people, resulting in a significant gap in knowledge. The present study seeks to provide some preliminary information about the fat experience, which can be utilized in future research and in clinical and interpersonal settings. A convenience sample of young adults (ages 18−30 years) was derived from undergraduate and graduate students at a private Christian college in Oregon. Participants were asked to report demographic information, including t-shirt size and body proportions, and answer questions regarding their emotional experience, life satisfaction, and engagement in meaningful activities. We found that fat participants experienced greater external shame compared to their thin peers. No moderating or mediating relationships among body size, shame, or other variables were found. However, it was clear that shame is related to life dissatisfaction and lack of cheer. Engagement in meaningful activities did not appear to be related to shame, but was related to cheer in that participants who experienced higher levels of cheer did not engage in activities as often as those with lower levels of cheer. Overall, the present study highlighted the importance of considering body size and shame in research and clinical practice and encourages future fat-centered research.

Included in

Psychology Commons