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Unbearable Weight

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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"

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