For adolescent girls, negative messages about obesity and body image from society, media, school, family, and peers are plentiful. Yet the lived-experience of obese adolescent girls has rarely been reported in scientific literature. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived-experience of the obese adolescent female and understand the impact of the messages received. A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to conduct face-to-face interviews with eight adolescent girls, age 11-18. Participants were recruited through network sampling and had a body mass index of 30 or more. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of embodied perception guided interpretation and data analysis. Seven themes describe their lived experience and reflect the internal and external messages perceived including, false assumptions, myth of perfection, nonculpable diversity, nobody’s perfect, beauty is not skin deep, disengagement, and society’s misplaced focus. Awareness of the livedexperience described in these themes, may guide health care providers to formulate a holistic plan of care that will positively impact both the physical and psychosocial health of the adolescent female who is obese.


Adolescent Female, Obesity, Descriptive Phenomenology, Lived-Experience, Embodiment, Perception, Merleau-Ponty

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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