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Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body

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Home » Books » Nonfiction » Social Sciences » Feminism & Feminist Theory

Unbearable Weight

Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body

By Susan Bordo, Leslie Heywood (Foreword by)

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Format: Paperback, 400 pages, 2nd Revised edition Edition
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: United States, 01 January 2004
"Unbearable Weight is brilliant. From an immensely knowledgeable feminist perspective, in engaging, jargonless (!) prose, Bordo analyzes a whole range of issues connected to the body--weight and weight loss, exercise, media images, movies, advertising, anorexia and bulimia, and much more--in a way that makes sense of our current social landscape--finally! This is a great book for anyone who wonders why women's magazines are always describing delicious food as 'sinful' and why there is a cake called Death by Chocolate. Loved it!"--Katha Pollitt, Nation columnist and author of "Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture (2001)

"This is a terrific book!"--Nancy J. Chodorow, author of "The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture (2001) and "The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (California, 1999)

"Susan Bordo's "Unbearable Weight is a masterpiece of complex and nuanced thinking not only about a significant problem that faces women but about our culture. A very valuable book."--Susan Griffin, author of "The Book of Courtesans: A Catalogue of their Virtues (2001)

Promotional Information

Won the Association for Women in Psychology Distinguished Publication Award in 1994 and was a 1993 "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year.

About the Author

Susan Bordo is Singletary Chair in the Humanities and Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private (1999), and Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato to O.J. (California, 1997).


Bordo argues that anorexia nervosa and bulimia are logical, if extreme, manifestations of anxieties and fantasies fostered by a culture that worships the slender, fit body as a symbol of ``virile'' mastery over bodily desires. In her diagnosis, hysteria, anorexia and agoraphobia ``develop out of the practice of femininity itself''; the female is defined by society as a passive, primitive object, while the male is seen as an active, conscious, striving subject. This philosophy professor at Le Moyne College in New York views women's addiction to plastic surgery, and both men's and women's body fetishism, in terms of a consumerist culture that attempts to deny inevitable bodily decay and death. Elsewhere in these brilliant, scholarly yet accessible essays, she analyzes images of men and women in advertisements, interprets the current abortion debate as an assault on the personhood of women and charts pop star Madonna's metamorphosis from voluptuous rebel to slender, taut, muscular icon. Illustrated. (Sept.)

"This excellent study links the fear of women's fat with a fear of women's power and shows that as opportunities for women increase, their bodies dwindle."--"New York Times Book Review"

EAN: 9780520240544
ISBN: 0520240545
Publisher: University of California Press
Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 centimetres (0.63 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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