“Affect & Media(ted) Experiences: Shocking Flesh: Fatness, Feeling and the Politics of Interpretation” presented by Kyrölä


Session Title:

  • Critical Interaction Design Sessions: The Aesthetics of Interaction and Behavior

Presentation Title:

  • Affect & Media(ted) Experiences: Shocking Flesh: Fatness, Feeling and the Politics of Interpretation



  • In my PhD research on fat embodiment in the media, I look at different kinds of images of women and men who are defined fat by the contemporary body standards, and these images almost always provoke strong feelings. Some of the images tend to annoy me or even shock me at first. Most of the popular, mainstream images of fat bodies seem to support very conventional power relations in terms of body size, gender, sexuality and ‘race’. During the process of interpretation the feelings and attitudes towards the images necessarily change. In the presentation I will discuss how my feelings, interpretations and ways of looking as a feminist researcher meet and are constructed in the research process. I am especially interested in the cultural constructions of distance and proximity between the researcher or the viewer and visual material, and how the variations in distance can be of use from a feminist perspective.

    Distance and proximity are produced through bodily experience as well as research objectives and conventions. The assumed bodily similarities or differences between the viewer and the image are important factors in producing different ways of identification. However, through feminist reading and interpretation some images that have first felt distant to me have become closer; sometimes images that have felt uncomfortably close have become distanced. To illustrate how the consideration of embodied distances can be useful, I compare my interpretation process of pornographic images of fat women on the Internet with some other typical representations of fatness in the contemporary popular media.

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