Producing Physical and Social ‘Unfitness’

My mom would ask me to go to the store. I had so much anxiety about that . . . I think it was because of being overweight and people commenting even though that’s not what I thought consciously. All I knew was that it was uncomfortable to go outside. (Salima) Women recounted how they... Continue Reading →

Why Women More Than Men?

“Given that this belief system pervades our culture, why does it affect women so much more than men? Why do more women than men suffer from eating disorders, obesity, and distorted body image? Why are women, not men, at war with their bodies? There are many reasons, some more obvious than others. One reason is... Continue Reading →

…And Man Created “Woman”: Representations of Women’s Bodies in Western Culture

“The 20-plus years of my professional life as clinical psychologist has been spent working with women who hate their bodies--women who feel “too fat,” although most of them are not “fat.” [...] They feel they have failed at being beautiful [...]. They have allowed me to see that their body hatred registers, silently, voicelessly, in... Continue Reading →

Food, Sexuality, and Desire

  "I would argue, however, that more than a purely profit-maximizing, ideologically neutral, Madison Avenue mentality is at work in these ads. They must also be considered as gender ideology--that is, as specifically (consciously or unconsciously) servicing the cultural reproduction of gender difference and gender inequality, quite independent of (although at times coinciding with) marketing... Continue Reading →

The Heavy Bear

"“The withness of the body”: the body as not “me” but “with” me is at the same time the body that is inescapably “with me.” Like a Siamese twin, neither one with me nor separable from me, my body has “followed me since the black womb held,” moving where I move, accompanying my every act.... Continue Reading →

“Feminist Consumerism and Fat Activists: A Comparative Study of Grassroots Activism and the Dove Real Beauty Campaign”

"Both the Dove Real Beauty Campaign and PPPO [Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off] claim to challenge hegemonic beauty codes that articulate a virtually unachievable conception of physical beauty. Given the extent to which these images of models affect women’s self-perceptions, it may come as little surprise that only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful. In response, Dove has committed itself to... Continue Reading →

“Not just ‘a white girl’s thing’: The changing face of food and body image problems”

Probably the most significant factor, however, in the failure to conceptualize eating problems in an inclusive way has been ignorance of (or in some cases, resistance to acknowledging) the awesome power of cultural imagery. Fiji is a striking example of that power. Because of their remote location, the Fiji islands did not have access to... Continue Reading →

“‘Fat! Fat! Big fat butt!’ and so on”

[A]s I was about to serve the cake at her last birthday party, I overheard the children at the table, laughingly discussing the topic of fat. The conversation was apparently inspired by the serving of the cake. 'I want to get fat!' one of them said, laughingly. But it was clearly a goad, meant for... Continue Reading →

There’s No Business Like the Body Business: Profiting from Women’s Bodies

"Most women feel their bodies fail the beauty test, and the American health and beauty industry benefits enormously from continually nurturing feminine insecurities. If women are busy trying to control their bodies through dieting, excessive exercise, and self-improvement, they are distracted from other important aspects of selfhood that might challenge the status quo.* In the... Continue Reading →

Patriarchal Internalization and Resistance to, or; ‘Why Isn’t Every Woman a Feminist?’

“As noted earlier, women punish themselves too for the failure to conform. The growing literature on women’s body size is filled with wrenching confessions of shame from the overweight: I felt clumsy and huge. I felt that I would knock over furniture, bump into things, tip over chairs, not fit into VW’s, especially when people... Continue Reading →

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