Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Garner, Ana C.

Second Advisor

Brennen, Bonnie

Third Advisor

Nettleton, Pamela Hill


This thesis uses textual analysis to explore and analyze messages in six popular women's diet self-help books published between 2005 and 2012. This work is grounded in feminist theory and discusses the ways in which women's diet books encourage readers to think about women and weight loss. Findings of the study indicate that women's diet books do three things: first, they discourage women from dieting, while simultaneously promoting diet-like strategies for them to follow; second, they create and reinforce a "naturally thin" ideal for women; third, they use empowerment rhetoric to place the responsibility and burden of weight loss on the individual reader. Overall, the insights derived from this study contribute to feminist scholarship on issues regarding women and weight, literature on self-help books, and the larger cultural discourse about women and weight loss.