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Hesse-Biber goes beyond traditional psychological explanations of eating disorders to level a powerful indictment against the social, political, and economic pressures women face in a weight-obsessed society--a society that is, ironically, becoming increasingly more fat while worshipping a progressively more thin ideal. She examines the profit motives of corporate America that promote this paradox. Moreover, a new chapter on preteens, masculinity, ethnicity, gay and lesbian body image, and the globalization of body image issues align a refined cultural study of body image with the trends found in current research studies, demographic data, and popular culture.
Using the metaphor of a cult, Hesse-Biber conveys the intense, day-to-day involvement that the pursuit of thinness demands. Examining the testimonies of young women concerning the practice of body rituals, she observes the extent to which these women sacrifice their bodies and minds to the pursuit of the ultra-slender ideal. She looks at pressures coming from their families and friends that perpetuate their cult-like practices and evaluates a range of therapies and personal and collective actions available to help women overcome their weight obsessions and eating problems.
Hesse-Biber provides new frameworks for envisioning femininity and personal power, overcoming body insecurity, strengthening the inner self, and changing the cultural environment itself. Along the way, the reader is provided with important self-help tips to tackle the growing number of body image issues young women and new recruits to the "Cult of Thinness" continue to encounter.
There are alternatives to the Cult of Thinness and this book provides a strong antidote.
1. A Cult Grows in America
2. Men and Women: Mind and Body
3. Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting and Recovery
4. There's No Business Like the Body Business: Fitness and Cosmetic Surgery
5. Becoming a Certain Body
6. Joining the Cult of Thinness
7. From Disorderly Eating to Eating Disorders: The Cultural Context of Anorexia and Bulimia
8. New Recruits for the Cult of Thinness: Young Girls, Men, and Ethnic Women
9. Breaking Free from the Cult of Thinness