Am I Thin Enough Yet?

Am I Thin Enough Yet? : Cult of Thinness and the Commercialization of Identity

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Sharlene Hesse-Biber builds on interviews with young women concerning their weight and body image in order to connect women's eating patterns to images in popular culture. Linking eating disorders to contemporary social, cultural, and economic pressures on women to be thin, she argues that diet and workout industries profit from this cult of thinness and help to perpetuate more

Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones, bibliography
  • 0195082419
  • 9780195082418

Review quote

"Hesse-Biber provides a 'tour de force' examination of the cultural factors that contribute to women's obsession with thinness. She weaves together a review of historical materials, an exploration of current psychological and sociological research, and interviews with women. Am I Thin Enough Yet? is a scholarly yet highly readable analysis of why women get so caught up with the quest for thinness."--Ruth H. Striegel-Moore, Ph.D., President of the Academy for Eating Disorders"The discontent of American women is nowhere stronger than in the way they look--almost everyone thinks she is too fat. Sharlene Hesse-Biber's book combines research data with the voices of lamenting women to show us that we have not come a long way at all! We are right where we started--loathing ourselves and victims of a distorted image. We may think we have risen high in our organizations, but we only care about whether we have risen on our scales. Hesse-Biber's book asks women to liberate ourselves from this meaningless concern."--Shulamit Reinharz, Department of Sociology, Brandeis Universityshow more

About Sharlene Hesse-Biber

About the Author: Sharlene Hesse-Biber is Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston College. The former director of the Women's Studies Program at Boston College, she is founding director of the National Association for Women in Catholic Higher Education and has published widely in the field of women's more

Review Text

A tendentious argument by a feminist sociologist that eating disorders are the product of patriarchal social and economic interests that regard women primarily as wives, mothers, and decorative objects. Hesse-Biber (Sociology/Boston Coll.) surveyed nearly 400 male and female students about their eating habits and attitudes and, over an eight-year period, conducted in-depth interviews of some 60 college-age women, primarly from white middle- and upper-middle-class families, to investigate why so many women see weight as defining their identity. She rejects the idea that eating disorders are a sign of psychopathology, finding instead that the fault lies not in the individual woman but in the messages society sends women. In her view, it is to the benefit of ruling patriarchal interests - the government, corporations, the media, and the traditional family - for women to be obsessed with their own bodies, for then they "lose control over other important aspects of selfhood that might challenge the status quo." Today's cult of thinness, she argues, is comparable to the practice of foot binding in prerevolutionary China and to the wearing of tight corsets in the Victorian era, customs by which male-dominated societies effectively controlled not just the appearance but the behavior of women. Unless social activists change the institutions that have shaped our culture's view that women are defined by their bodies, Hesse-Biber asserts, the cult of thinness that now afflicts primarily upper-middle-class white women in wealthy Western societies will spread to people of color in these countries and to developing nations around the globe. She suggests ways in which women can initiate social change through personal gestures within their own circle of family, friends, and coworkers. Too academic to have wide appeal, but likely to stimulate lively discussion in classes devoted to women's studies. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

171 ratings
3.49 out of 5 stars
5 18% (30)
4 29% (50)
3 42% (72)
2 8% (13)
1 4% (6)
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