‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a Korean woman’: Gender politics of female bodies in Korean weight-loss reality TV shows

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Abstract

This study examines gender politics from a feminist perspective by analysing significant discourses on body care, which are regenerated through female-targeted Korean weight-loss reality television shows. Three key discourses have implicitly reinforced gender politics within Korean culture. First, weight-loss reality television shows tend to expand the abnormal category of the Korean female body by only focusing on ordinary females, regardless of body size. Second, Korean female body care has been affected by the idea of ‘saving face’, which is regarded as a unique historical national characteristic. Lastly, these diet television shows create a significant discourse called ‘diet pornography’ by emphasizing ‘after’ diet results, such as toned and idealized body shapes, while minimizing the ‘before’ diet, such as the harsh processes and desperate efforts of the ordinary participants. The body-care discourses represented in Korean weight-loss reality television shows play a significant role in defining the gender politics that reinforce the idea that Korean females must modify their bodies as a duty and good habit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1019
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Volume54
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Korean weight-loss reality TV show
  • critical discourse analysis
  • female body care
  • feminism
  • gender politics

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