Sexualising weight loss in British tabloids:celebrities ‘flaunting’ their bodies during a pandemic

Coltman-Patel, Tara and Wright, David (2023) Sexualising weight loss in British tabloids:celebrities ‘flaunting’ their bodies during a pandemic. Journal of Language and Discrimination, 7 (1). pp. 1-25.

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This paper explores the relationship between weight loss, sex and beauty by analysing a corpus of 285 articles about celebrity weight loss published in the UK national press between 23 March 2020 and 6 July 2020. Taking a corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis approach, we examine the use of the statistically salient lemma flaunt*. Ninety-seven per cent of the instances of flaunt* in our corpus are attributed to female celebrities, and the respective protagonists are reported by the UK press to flaunt their bodies and their weight loss on their social media pages. By critically analysing the use of flaunt*, we are able to demonstrate the manner in which celebrity social media posts are repackaged to sexualise female celebrities and to sexualise the process of weight loss in general. We argue that describing social media images shared by female celebrities as flaunting could at best, misrepresent their intentions, and at worst contribute towards the pervasive unsolicited sexualisation of women, and exacerbate adverse body image and mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic which in and of itself has exacerbated these issues.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Language and Discrimination
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09 Sep 2022 08:45
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 02:32