Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Roger Mitch Nasser

Second Advisor

Kilinyaa Cothran

Third Advisor

Shane Williamson


Weight-based discrimination is considered the last acceptable form of discrimination in the United States. Fat bias and stigma are present in healthcare, employment, and education. This dissertation study explores the experiences of fat students on college campuses, examining their experiences of anti-fat bias and discrimination. Additionally, this study explores policy and practice implications for improving the experiences of fat college students and supporting body diversity on campus. This dissertation has four overarching research questions that focus on the following topics: fat students’ experiences of weight-based stigma and discrimination in college, the limitations of physical space on college campuses, perceptions of available resources for fat students, and the impact of demographic factors on the fat student experience in college. Eighteen survey participants and six interview participants provided data. Participants stated that their experiences of stigma and discrimination did not impact their overall college experience, which they reported as positive. Study participants expressed the need for a greater understanding of the needs of fat students and the need for increased opportunities to feel like they belong. This study shows that higher education institutions are not doing enough to support fat students and suggests changes for increased inclusion and retention.

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