Date of Graduation

Fall 2011


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Rose Utley


adolescent female, obese, phenomenology, lived-experience, embodiment, perception, Merleau-Ponty

Subject Categories



The issue of obesity has become a national obsession, and the recent focus on child and adolescent obesity multiplies the messages, both positive and negative, that the obese female adolescent hears from society. Obese female adolescents' experiences of the world are rarely reported in scientific literature. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived-experience of the obese adolescent female. A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to explore that lived-experience. Face-to-face interviews of adolescent volunteers were conducted in a private setting with parental consent and participant assent obtained. Eight adolescent females between the ages of 11-19 who were identified as obese by means of body mass index (BMI) volunteered. Merleau-Ponty's philosophy of embodied perception guided thematic interpretation and analysis of data obtained. Seven themes, false assumptions, myth of perfection, nonculpable diversity, nobody's perfect, beauty is not skin deep, disengagement, and society's lost focus were identified through eidetic reduction of the data. These themes reflect the perceptions of both internal and external messages of the adolescents. Awareness of the lived-experience of the obese adolescent female will guide nurses working with them to formulate holistic treatment that will positively impact physical and psychosocial health.


© Jamie Leigh Randall-Arell

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