This week on Women’s Magazine we explore the racial, cultural, economic and emotional roots of our obsession with thin bodies.
Sabrina Strings, professor of Sociology at University of California, Irvine (and UC Berkeley alum), in her book Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, brings a new lens to an old problem. Tracing the history of western body ideals through art, literature, religious, popular cultural and medical teachings, Strings argues persuasively that the current crusade against obesity is not about health, but rather a means of using the body to validate race, class, and gender prejudice.
Shani Raviv’s memoir, Being Ana, explores the role that anorexia, personified as Ana, played in her life for ten years, from age 14 to 24. Moving from South Africa to Israel and back again, with parents who were depressed or absent, uncomfortable because of class issues and a severe squint, anorexia was less an extreme diet than a search for order and structure. Yet none of the adults around her recognized the problem and intervened. Shani talks about how she eventually healed and what you can do if you think someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder.