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Abstract

One of the most popular themes associated with reality television is the ‘make-over show’, and its usefulness for advertising is evident; it not only promotes the ideology of beauty and thinness, but also of consumption. Scholar Eileen Saunders sums up the link between ide-ologies of beauty and consumption quite concisely: “in order to motivate consumers to buy beauty products, there needs to be some assurance of transformation offered” (2008:114). More specifically, the bulk of make-over based reality programming has shifted to achieving weight-loss goals that reflect the beauty signifier of thinness. With the so-called ‘obesity epidemic’ affecting Americans across the country, programs such as The Biggest Loser claim to promote a ‘healthy lifestyle’ that will help participants obtain a beautiful body. Unfortunately, this healthy lifestyle is really only an extreme and temporary ‘quick fix’ to a serious problem. Research done on the implications of consumerism that this particular program can have on the audience concludes that, most notably, it promotes the consumption of certain products in order to achieve and maintain a ‘healthy’ (or socially acceptable) weight. What has not been researched, however, is the extent to which the same notions appear on Canadian television.

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