communication, politics, stigma, obesity, weight, news media, online news, political communication
News media use metaphors to describe politics (Landau & Keefer, 2014) and obesity (Barry,Brescoll, Brownell, & Schlesinger, 2009). Weight-based stigma is prevalent in U.S. news media (Heuer,McClure, & Puhl, 2011). Media coverage of politicians’ body size may contain metaphors that stigmatizeweight. Metaphors reflect and shape how people think about important issues like politics or obesity(Landau, Sullivan, & Greenberg, 2009; Landau, Meier, & Keefer, 2010; Landau & Keefer, 2014).
Objective – This study uses stigma communication theory (Smith, 2007) to examine stigmatizing metaphors used in media coverage of a United States politician, and candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican.
Method. – We coded n = 240 articles, from January 2011 to December 2014, that referenced Christie’s weight. Considering both the articles and the comments in response to them, we identified n = 246weight references that utilized metaphors and coded these using categories derived from the stigma communication theory framework.
Results. – Our coding of these weight references, from journalists and comments posted by the public,demonstrated that metaphors accomplish all four functions of stigma communication: they mark, label,assign personal responsibility, and link to peril the stigmatized person.
Conclusion. – Our findings demonstrate not only that news media use metaphors to describe a politician’s weight, but also show how these metaphors — alone and together — function to constitute stigma communication messages. These messages can affect public opinions toward politics and obesity.
European Review of Applied Psychology
DOI of Published Version
Anderson, J.; Zhu, Y.; Zhuang, J.; Nelson, J.C.; Bresnahan, M.J.; and Yan, X., "Metaphors that Communicate Weight-Based Stigma in Political News: A Case Study of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie" (2017). Communication Studies Publications. 30.