Transforming fat bodies: lifestyle media and corporeal responsibility

Jayne Raisborough

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


As the obesity epidemic fills the news hours, weight-loss TV programmes fill day-time viewing and the much sought after 8-9 pm slot in UK television. It seems that, as TV News warns us of the problem – the personal and national cost of obesity; weight-loss TV presents us with the solution – a hearty mix of the right attitude, the right diet and the right exercise. A growing chorus of critical voices are raising rigorous challenges to the obesity science informing the news and other factual reporting (for example see, Campos et al., 2006; Gard, 2010; Evans et al., 2010). More specifically for our purposes, scholars charting the cultural prejudices weaving through that science, observe a denigrating visual imagery of fatness and fat bodies accompanying most factual reportage. In short, this work argues that dehumanising cultural representations not only simplify the complexity of obesity, but fuel everyday stigmatisation of people of weight and foster institutional and interpersonal mistreatment of people regarded as fat and overweight (Carr & Friedman, 2005; Morrison & Thompson, 2009). However, less attention has been paid to the ways fatness and fat bodies are represented in weight-loss TV shows. While denigrating imagery is clearly evident, this chapter argues that different mediations of fatness are observable in weight-loss shows. By identifying weight-loss TV shows as a part of a wider genre of lifestyle media, itself defined as that concerned with transformation, this paper maps out a redemptive fat body. However, this is not to suggest that more positive ‘fat’ imagery and representation exists, but to argue that the conditions and means of redemption reveal much of the ways that ideal neoliberal personhood is being imagined, visualised and circulated in popular culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorporeality: the body and society
EditorsC. Ogden, S. Wakeman
Place of PublicationChester
PublisherUniversity of Chester Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781905929979
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2013

Publication series

NameIssues in the social sciences


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