MSSc Ritter Susanne

52500 €

Fat Bodies, Gender, and Relationships of Power – A cross-cultural comparison of makeover TV shows in Finland and the United States

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Kaksivuotinen

Reality television and makeover shows are perceived as a light form of popular culture. However, they show the development of society, expectations towards the body and outward appearance, and cultural norms and notions throughout time, thus proving to be a critical site of cultural production. In my dissertation "Fat Bodies, Gender, and Relationships of Power – A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Makeover TV Shows in Finland and the United States” I investigate how the ways of representing fat female bodies in makeover TV shows construct and reproduce societal discourses of gender, power, relationships and identity. I analyse three makeover shows from Finland and two from the US through qualitative content analysis and draw a cross-cultural comparison. I utilise feminist critical discourse analysis to examine not only the contents but shed light on the cultural and societal contexts and implications of the shows. My research takes a critical position by looking at the topic in light of Michel Foucault’s theories of power, normalisation and discipline in the context of feminist media research. I take a new approach to the topic of fatness, gender and structures of power by investigating how popular TV shows normalise and make entertainment out of gendered, sexual, and bodily hierarchies concerning the fat female body. Hereby I add a thus far unique cross-cultural viewpoint to the academic discussion about fatness, dieting, gender and the media. There is a valuable conversation to be had about the comparative transnational differences voiced through makeover programs, which is a gap my research intends to fill. My work crosses boundaries between the two countries, furthering mutual understanding of key issues. I aim to impact how we view the world and further critical thinking. I do not only see the big picture but want to be able to intervene; I do not only seek to describe the world but change it.