Stories that matter: Subverting the before-and-after weight-loss narrative

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Abstract

Contemporary scholarship does not pay enough attention to stigma in relation to its temporal status; i.e. whether the stigma is temporary and changeable, or is it permanent? The present article links the study of sociology of time, of de-stigmatization strategies and of narrative resistance, through a case study of individuals who are stigmatized on the basis of an attribute perceived as temporary and changeable - fatness. Conducting a comparative analysis of Before-and-After weight-loss articles appearing in an Israeli online health magazine, I examine how these narratives marginalize fat people by presenting fatness as temporary and changeable. I then compare these narratives to life narratives produced by Israeli-Jewish women, who self-identify as fat. Participants subvert mainstream narratives in two ways: (1) assigning the fat body to "After," thereby challenging the temporary and transient status of fatness and (2) subverting other discursive characteristics of Before-and-After Weight-Loss Narratives. As a result, participants produce valid knowledge and social criticism from a stable fat subject position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-105
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Semiotics
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • before-and-after weight loss narrative
  • destigmatization strategy
  • fat studies
  • identity construction
  • narrative resistance
  • stigma
  • temporality

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