Weighty Issues: Fatness and Thinness as Social Problems

Weighty Issues: Fatness and Thinness as Social Problems

by Donna Maurer
     
 

Many people consider their weight to be a personal problem; when, then, does body weight become a social problem? Until recently, the major public concern was whether enough food was consistently available. As food systems began to provide ample and stable amounts of food, questions about food availability were replaced with concerns about "ideal" weights

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Overview

Many people consider their weight to be a personal problem; when, then, does body weight become a social problem? Until recently, the major public concern was whether enough food was consistently available. As food systems began to provide ample and stable amounts of food, questions about food availability were replaced with concerns about "ideal" weights and appearance. These interests were aggregated into public concerns about defining people as "too fat" and "too thin."

Social constructionist perspectives can contribute to the understanding of weight problems because they focus attention on how these problems are created, maintained, and promoted within various social environments. While there is much objectivist research concerning weight problems, few studies address the socially constructed aspects of fatness and thinness. This book however draws from and contributes to social constructionist perspectives.

The chapters in this volume offer several perspectives that can be used to understand the way society deals with fatness and thinness. The contributors consider historical foundations, medical models, gendered dimensions, institutional components, and collective perspectives. These different perspectives illustrate the multifaceted nature of obesity and eating disorders, providing examples of how a variety of social groups construct weight as a social problem.

Jeffery Sobal is Professor, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University. He is on the board of directors of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and he has Cornell University Graduate Field Membership in the areas of Nutrition, Development Sociology and Epidemiology.

Donna Maurer is John S. Knight Postdoctoral Fellow in the Writing Program, Cornell University. She also serves on the board of directors of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and is an adjunct professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland University College.

Drs. Sobal and Maurer are coeditors of a companion volume, Interpreting Weight: The Social Management of Fatness and Thinness, and Eating Agendas: Food and Nutrition as Social Problems

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780202305806
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
12/31/1999
Series:
Social Problems and Social Issues Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
274
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range:
16 Years

Table of Contents

Preface
Pt. IIntroduction
1Body Weight as a Social Problem1
Pt. IIHistorical Foundations
2Children and Weight Control: Priorities in the United States and France9
3Fat Boys and Goody Girls: Hilde Bruch's Work on Eating Disorders and the American Anxiety about Democracy, 1930-196031
Pt. IIIMedical Models
4Constitutional Types, Institutional Forms: Reconfiguring Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches to Obesity in Early Twentieth-Century Biomedical Investigation53
5Defining Perfect and Not-So-Perfect Bodies: The Rise and Fall of the "Dreyer Method" for the Assessment of Physique and Fitness, 1918-2675
Pt. IVGendered Dimensions
6Ideal Weight/Ideal Women: Society Constructs the Female97
7Dieting Women: Self-Surveillance and the Body Panopticon117
8Fleshing Out the Discomforts of Femininity: The Parallel Cases of Female Anorexia and Male Compulsive Bodybuilding133
Pt. VInstitutional Components
9Commodity Knowledge in Consumer Culture: The Role of Nutritional Health Promotion in the Making of the Diet Industry159
10Meanings of Weight among Dietitians and Nutritionists183
Pt. VICollective Processes
11Too Skinny or Vibrant and Healthy?: Weight Management in the Vegetarian Movement209
12The Size Acceptance Movement and the Social Construction of Body Weight231
Biographical Sketches of the Contributors251
Index255

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