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The Cult of Thinness

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  147 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Whether they are rich or poor, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist, thriving or stagnat, most American women have on thing in common--they want to be thin--or thinner. And they are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get that way, even to the point of starving themselves. Why are America's women so preoccupied with weight? Is there more to this preoccupatio ...more
Paperback, 271 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 30th 1997)
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Jul 28, 2008 Cara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents, people struggling with body image or eating disorders
Why I liked it in one sentence: The Cult of Thinness shifts the focus of disordered eating from the individual or family unit to the dominant culture we live in- - steeped in a false mind/body dichotomy, rampant capitalism, and impossible/ destructive gender ideals.
Why it didn't get 5 stars: Didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, and most of the author's research focused on white middle class undergrads (surprise, surprise), so was somewhat limited in scope.
Bottom line: Worth read
It was an okay book. I discovered it in a humanities class when it was on the reading list. I took it out from the library to read again.

It affected me on a personal level. So many things in the book I could relate to.

I liked this book because it wasn't just about eating disorders; it was about the context surrounding the drive to be thin, and proposed the notion of a culture, or a "cult of thinness".

I wished the book did more. Like someone said before, there was nothing in the book that I did
Oleg Kagan
I read this book to help me facilitate a discussion forum on Body Image and the Media at my library on February 22nd, 2011.

Am I Thin Enough Yet? has a lot of the same information as other books on body image but it is presented in a more scholarly way (w/ footnotes) and from a pronounced perspective (2nd-wave feminism). I believe that this book is also notable for introducing the phrase 'the cult of thinness' into the lexicon.

Particularly useful for us during the forum was the section that expl
There are definitely a lot of interesting ideas to play with in this short and dense read. Questions are articulated in a way that wouldn't have occurred to me.

The mind-body dichotomy described, in which men and women are separated (implicitly) by the culture into mental faculties and physical characteristics, respectively. Its roots are traced as far back as Aristotle, who posits that women are essentially soulless and evil, and men pure and intellectual. If the soul is really just the reificat
Nov 04, 2013 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, media
Borrowing on the success of The Beauty Myth, Hesse-Biber offers this argument - that the socio-cultural preoccupation with policing bodies and weight is a cult which we are initiated into from birth. Starting in the 1960s, it has grown into it's own self actualised being that no longer needs gate keepers to sustain it. Her arguments are sound, and as with other similar analyses, oft uses highly emotional knowledge. On the whole, the book is an easy read, and is light on academic language.

I read
Merrie Harris
May 10, 2009 Merrie Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another fascinating book about cultural pressures and how the female body is somehow still owned by society. I have my own food/body issues, including but not limited to being able to eat in front of people. This book discusses how young girls especially are taught early on if they are thin, pretty and good girls they will attract the right guy and live happily ever after. Makes one wonder if women's lib ever happened. There is also some shocking information about the booming industry of ...more
Jun 01, 2012 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weight

Well written and dense, packing a lot into one slim volume, a perfect balance between anecdotal evidence in the form of life stories told by the people Prof. Hesse-Biber interviewed and the cold hard facts and figures she lays out. Beyond all the problems people are developing by being taught to hate their own bodies, the part I found the most eye opening was when she points out how much money there is to be made by making people miserable, offering all sorts of expensive and dubious products an
May 24, 2013 Siobhan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: body-image
This is a great book for everyone! I loved how the writer included the voices of different genders across a variety of cultural sub groups. Including the voices of hetero men, gay men, femme and butch lesbians, black women and men, hispanic women and men, girls around the age of six and twenty something college women was wonderfully inclusive! A great book for your own self image as well as a great book for research! This book has inspired me to make a film on this subject!
Jun 11, 2007 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the laydeez
Very disturbing look at how the cult of thin has effectively made slaves of all white women in the 20th century. It examines dieting habits of women throughout the 1920s-today, looks at eating disorder prevalence, how being thin has become the unattainable standard, and how all of this has affected our society as a whole. A really great book.
Aug 04, 2007 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
another book that will make you hate capitalism...a very revealing and insightful critique of society's emphasis on thinness for women and men...
Aug 29, 2009 Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very nice study of appearance-obsession...but would benefit from some of the theory in Bryan S. Turner's The Body and Society.
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