Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Ritter, S.
Fat bodies, intimate relationships and the self in finnish and American weight-loss TV shows
(2022) Fat Studies

DOI: 10.1080/21604851.2022.2031579

As sites where the construction of identity and selfhood take place, relationship-focused weight-loss TV shows reproduce the notion of a correlation between a woman’s body size, her ‘success’ in romantic relationships, and the appropriate self. I analyze the weight-loss shows Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian from the US, and Rakas, Sinusta on Tullut Pullukka (Honey, You’ve Become Chubby) from Finland, investigating how relationship and body size norms, gender, and the self intertwine. I examine the shows in light of Foucault’s theory of normalization. Here, normalization not only refers to the normalization of the body but also of the relationship(s) required to achieve a valid self. I suggest that the shows express a parallel between being single and on the verge of society and being fat and being on the verge of society; through solving one of the deviations (in this case, becoming thin) the other deviation (being single) can be changed and thus a “normal” life can be achieved. People learn how to normalize their bodies and their relationships, which in the end paves the way for the idea that a good body/dieting is the precondition for a relationship and an acceptable self. The shows thus reinforce that a thin body is the basis for an appropriate self and fulfilling life. © 2022 Taylor & Francis.

Author Keywords
fat; Foucault; Makeover; normalization; relationships

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