The Cult of Thinness

Ever since I was 10 years old I always wanted to be the thinnest, the prettiest. ‘Cause I thought, if I look like this, then I’m going to have so many boyfriends, and guys are going to be so in love with me, and I’ll be taken care of for the rest of my life.

Guys don’t like fat girls. Guys like little girls. I guess because it makes them feel bigger and, you know, they want somebody who looks pretty. Pretty to me is you have to be thin and you have to have, like, good facial features. My final affirmation of myself is how many guys look at me when I go to a bar.”

When I first threw up I thought, well, it’s so easy, I can eat and not get the calories and not gain weight. And I was modeling at the time, and I wanted to look like the girls in the magazines. When I was 16 I just got into this image thing, like tiny, thin. The most stressful thing for me is whether I’m going to eat that day, and what am I going to eat, more than getting good grades. And I was surrounded by girls who were all so concerned about their weight, and it was just really this horrible situation. And I just figured, God, how much easier would it be for me to get married to somebody I know is going to make a lot of money and just be taken care of.

“Conservative estimates put the number of young women and girls with eating disorders between 5 and 10 million. Estimates of body dissatisfaction among women range upward to 56%. Younger kids are joining the diet craze: an estimated 40% of 9- and 10-year-old kids say they “sometimes” or “very often” diet. The American population is spending $50 billion dollars each year buying diet-related products.”

“One major manifestation of patriarchy is the primary image of women as good wives and mothers and objects of decorative worth. Capitalist interests have made big business out of women’s preoccupation with their bodies. Aided by advertising and mass media, the Cult of Thinness generates enormous profits for the food, diet, and health industries.”

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene. 2007. The Cult of Thinness. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 4,  11, 13-16.


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