Final Ph.D. Examination Of Paula Maez


Paula Maez's project is focused on conversations and issues about health literacy in a variety of community types and how individual experiences, perspectives, and their identities impact information processes in people’s day to day lives. The purpose of this project was to explore how specific identities (fatness, Latinx, women) influence the interpretation of health messaging and how these identities can also possibly increase the efficacy of health messaging. By engaging with study collaborators through the lens of the Culture-Centered Approach, this project examined how the embodied intersectional experiences of fat Latinas interact with the social and cultural context of how they receive and use health information messaging. The research findings through narrative inquiry, qualitative data, and health literacy guidance included how health messaging from family contribute to shaping meaning making and health/wellbeing, health messaging with a weight-centered paradigm is a space of violence, and ways that could support processing/interpreting and meaning making of health information for fat Latinx women. Recommendations for public health/health information educators include developing health messaging within a weight-inclusive health paradigm that include representation of different bodies in neutral/positive light, that reside outside normative health ideals that affirm alternative approaches to health and what a healthy lifestyle encompasses, that acknowledge systems and disparities and their intersections with health, that promote agency to re-imagine health norms. Additionally, recommendations for health providers include listening to and centering the voices of their patients, recognize and acknowledge that fat Latinx women can be in tune with their health and bodies, recognize systems and disparities and how they may intersect with one’s health, explore and be cognizant of their own possible anti fat bias and stigma, and practice under a weight-inclusive health paradigm, including messaging around health they give to their patients. This project provides a profound account of the lived experience of stigmatization, marginalization, and resiliency through information receiving, and use, and provides opportunities to move towards a more inclusive and non-stigmatizing framework when developing health messaging.

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9 a.m. Dec. 10, 2021