Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

Product Details
New York University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.9 inches | 0.9 pounds

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About the Author
Sabrina Strings is Chancellor's Fellow & Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. She was a recipient of the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship with a joint appointment in the School of Public Health and Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies; Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society, and Feminist Media Studies.
"[A] thoroughly researched exploration of the historical relationship between race-and weight-related prejudices...This fascinating and carefully constructed argument persuasively establishes a heretofore unexplored connection between racism and Western standards for body size, making it a worthy contribution to the social sciences."--Publishers Weekly
"Once upon a time, fat bodies were celebrated in art, in newspapers and magazines, and in medical journals, but that all changed during the Enlightenment Era of the 18th century when fatness was purposefully intertwined with the idea that people of color were racially inferior savages. Sabrina Strings's incredible book analyzes how that shift continued to plague Black women. . . . Fearing the Black Body makes the convincing argument that the thin ideal has always been racist."
"Traces centuries of racist pseudoscience up to the 20th century, demonstrating that today's ideal of thinness is inherently both sexist and racist."
"In Fearing the Fat Black Body, Sabrina Strings fills what has long been a gaping hole in scholarship on fatness and body size. Her careful historiographical exploration of the racialized roots of anti-fat, pro-thin bias should figure prominently in any academic, medical, political, or popular discussion of the contemporary American 'Obesity Epidemic.' In looking at the complex intersections of race, gender, class, and morality in current American framings of fatness and size, Strings does not simply add race to the conversation but shows that any analysis of body size that does not center race is necessarily incomplete."
"As a sociologist with a rich understanding of social history and cultural studies, Sabrina Strings asks and answers new and immensely generative questions about the ways of thinking that rule the world. Her astute analyses reveal the ways in which seemingly innocent aesthetic judgments about womens bodies register the effects of deep historical currents of thought and practice."
"Fearing the Black Body is a joy to read, smooth and erudite. And it is also a joy to experience, to feel Strings pulling the strands of the historical web closer and closer so that their knots and tangled intersections are clear to see. Most important, though, is the intellectual satisfaction it provides in giving a clear and well-argued convincing rationale for the origins, reach, and astonishing success of a bias whose history, as it had previously been presented, was patchy and inadequate."--Nursing Clio
"Strings seeks to illuminate how our current fat phobia is rooted, specifically, in a fear of black women. [She] persuasively shows that ... the link between fatness, racial otherness and, especially, female blackness, looms prominently in the American cultural imagination."
"A much-needed examination of the racism and colonialism embedded within society's imagined dangers of fat (black) bodies."
"This is an important, deeply-researched study of the racialized roots of fat denigration. It should be a must-read for scholars whose work focuses on the history of race, of gender, and of the bodyas well as by anyone who is interested in our deeply problematic contemporary culture of dieting and body shame."