Major Papers


Fat Liberation, TikTok, Content Analysis, Commodity Activism, Consumer Activism


Fat liberation is a political approach that was conceived in large part to address the material and legal disenfranchisement of marginalized bodies — specifically fat, Black, and disabled women’s bodies. In recent years, fatness has become commodifiable to the extent that the bodies with relative proximity to thinness, whiteness, and ability are lauded as positive forms of representation, especially within circles that promote body positivity as opposed to fat liberation. This dynamic equates to commodity activism, wherein environments with expressly progressive or political aims (like fat liberation) are co-opted by brands looking to own a portion of the social cache associated with perceived progressiveness. This research paper employs both qualitative and quantitative content analysis methods to ten TikTok videos concerning fat liberation and the fashion industry. This research project set out to determine to what extent these political discourses are impacted by commodity activism on TikTok. My findings indicate that these discourses are significantly impacted, and also points to the illusive TikTok algorithm as further complicating how conversations about fatness are received on the app. My analysis demonstrates that while access to clothing that is some combination of trendy, affordable, and size-inclusive can be a legitimately empowering experience, and this access absolutely should be free and equal across body size, there is a limit to the so-called liberation that can be achieved solely through collaboration with, and the celebration of, brands which offer something resembling size-inclusive clothing ranges.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Vincent Manzerolle

Program Reader

Dr. Susan Bryant

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Communication, Media and Film

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year