Digital Weight-Loss: The Mechanisms of the Construction of Beauty in the Russian-Speaking Weight-Loss Online Communities
New forms of sociality exist in these communities (liking and reposting photos and diets, commenting, advising and criticizing other members’ bodies, posting photos online for others to admire and to criticize, and finding persons to lose weight together). This sociality produces its heroes (those who successfully lost weight), identities (beautiful, thin, ugly, fat), forms of moral courage and bravery (losing weight, engaging in fitness activities). This sociality is riddled with inequality and lookism, separating women with different types of bodies and labeling them as “good” or “bad”.
The reproduction of the aforementioned forms of sociality is controlled by the members of the group itself. The community does not have a high degree of hierarchy; the authority is dispersed among the community members. The difference between the private and the public is blended. Thus, these communities can be conceptualized as “bunds”, a term introduced by Herman Schmalenbach.
The bund structure allows the “beauty myth” to exist. Becoming a member of such community is an act of the free will, but it conceals the existence of the repressing beauty myth which is not a matter of choice; the myth forces women to be beautiful by losing weight. The popularity of the aforementioned online communities shows the proliferation of the beauty myth in Russia.