Article in:Narrative Inquiry: Online-First Articles
Psychologizing childhood in the reality show Biggest Loser
Temporal ordering and narrating a fat identity
Obesity and overweight are central issues in contemporary western societies, and the public debates in media are extensive. This paper investigates stories from participants in the reality TV-show Biggest Loser, and how the participants invoke temporal identity changes and childhood traumas to produce discursively accepted narratives about the causes for being obese. This study analyses personal stories about being overweight, and narratives of living a life of obesity. The findings illustrate narrative trajectories in personal stories used to explain overweight within a contemporary therapeutic discourse, and how the participants use chronology and childhood as narrative resources to explain their obesity. These narratives do not only produce preferred explanatory narrative elements, but also highlight that a number of psychologized explanatory storylines must be used in order to produce a culturally valid and discursively accepted personal obesity-narrative.
Keywords: overweight, obesity, Biggest Loser, psychologization, therapeutic discourse, narrative genre, storylines, childhood narratives, childhood traumas, discursive psychology
- The historic stigma of being fat
- The contemporary stigma of being fat
- The therapeutic society
- The Biggest Loser reality show as narrative genre
- Analysing narrative genres
- Narrative analysis and discursive psychology
- Personal storytelling and temporal identity
- Analysing personal narratives in therapeutic discourses
- Analytical structure
- Ethical considerations
- Childhood as a narrative resource
- Comfort eating: Psychologizing causes of obesity
- Unhealthy relationships, self-esteem and self-transformation
Available under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 license.
For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at email@example.com.
Published online: 09 May 2022
Atkinson, P., & Silverman, D.
Blomberg, H., & Börjesson, M.
Cliff, K. & Wright, J.
Cunliffe, A. L., Luhman, J. T., & Boje, D. M.
De Fina, A.
Farias, C., Seremani, T., & Fernández, P. D.
Farrell, A. E.
Hoebeke, T., Deprez, A., & Raeymaeckers, K.
Hyvärinen, M., Hatavara, M., Rautajoki, H.
Kealy, D., & Ogrodniczuk, J.
(2013) Narrative dynamics in the competitive reality show. Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies, 5 (1), 55–75. https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/507670
Kilger, M., & Jonsson, R.
Levitan, R., & Davis, C.
Lyotard, J. -F.
Madsen, O. J.
(2013) Full 2012–2013 TV Season Series Rankings. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 31, 2021 from https://deadline.com/2013/05/tv-season-series-rankings-2013-full-list-506970/
Popova, Y., & Cuffari, E.
Sandlin, J., & Clark, M. C.
Stokoe, E., & Edwards, D.
Tileaga, C., & Stokoe, E.
Van De Mieroop, D.
(2019) Historiska dieter: Ständig oro för fetma [Historical diets: Constant fear of obesity]. Populär historia. Retrieved 2022-02-23 from https://popularhistoria.se/vardagsliv/hygien-halsa/historiska-dieter-standig-oro-for-fetma
World Health Organization
(2020) Obesity and overweight. Retrieved 2021-06-23 from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight