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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Rachel Thomas, Humanities

Shrink: Story of a Fat Girl: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Fat Body in Medicine and Society.

Date & time
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


This dissertation contextualizes data collected and synthesized in the research creation project Shrink: Story of a Fat Girl: a two-hundred-page graphic novel that examines the fat body in contemporary Western culture. It is a collection and critical examination of the current medical and sociological views on fatness from a pluridisciplinary perspective using specific examples from Shrink as a base for argument.

The aim of Shrink is to question the discourse around fatness, from extensive research and personal experience. Graphic novels are a format that are accessible to a larger public. The graphic novel now has a place in the growing field of graphic medicine which seeks to connect with individuals in both academic and non-institutional formats.

Shrink is the experiential journey of the book’s unlikely hero as she chooses to lose weight in a world that has dictated the medical and social dangers of being too fat. The novel takes the reader through the social complications of fatness, the medical gaze upon the female body, monstrous bodies, and diet culture. It examines the notion that weight loss is the only solution for a fat person. Shrink also reviews the damaging myths of the ‘perfect’ body, obsessions about healthism, pushback from activists and why, ultimately, it is so important for a person to demand autonomy over their own body. Shrink is about choices; to lose weight or not in a society of contradictions.

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