Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




Creative Writing

First Advisor

James Barilla


On March 24, 2010, my father walked into a hospital in North Carolina for an elective gastric bypass procedure; by Easter Sunday, it had become uncertain whether he would ever walk back out. Part memoir, part cultural analysis, Limited By Body Habitus: An American Fat Story traces the catastrophic consequences of my father’s botched gastric bypass surgery and examines the pervasive fat prejudice in the United States. As I tell the story of caring for my critically ill father while trying to navigate my complicated relationship with my mother, I wrestle with my own history of fat hatred. Additionally, I juxtapose our family disaster with another disaster that was occurring concurrently hundreds of miles away—the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that lasted for 87 days. By interweaving excerpts from medical records, journal entries, letters, and other primary and secondary sources into my story, I attempt to deconstruct the dominant narrative surrounding the “obesity epidemic” and complicate previously held beliefs about fat.