The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls

The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls

by Joan Jacobs Brumberg
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The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brumberg

A hundred years ago, women were lacing themselves into corsets and teaching their daughters to do the same. The ideal of the day, however, was inner beauty: a focus on good deeds and a pure heart. Today American women have more social choices and personal freedom than ever before. But fifty-three percent of our girls are dissatisfied with their bodies by the age of thirteen, and many begin a pattern of weight obsession and dieting as early as eight or nine. Why?

In The Body Project, historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg answers this question, drawing on diary excerpts and media images from 1830 to the present. Tracing girls' attitudes toward topics ranging from breast size and menstruation to hair, clothing, and cosmetics, she exposes the shift from the Victorian concern with character to our modern focus on outward appearance—in particular, the desire to be model-thin and sexy. Compassionate, insightful, and gracefully written, The Body Project explores the gains and losses adolescent girls have inherited since they shed the corset and the ideal of virginity for a new world of sexual freedom and consumerism—a world in which the body is their primary project.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679735298
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1998
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 286,462
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Joan Jacobs Brumberg is the award-winning author of Fasting Girls:  The History of Anorexia Nervosa and The Body Project. She is a Stephen H. Weiss Professor at Cornell University, where she holds a unique appointment teaching in the fields of history, human development, and women's studies.  Her research and sensitive writing about American women and girls have been recognized by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony.  She lives in Ithaca, New York.

Awards Brumberg has received include the Berkshire Book Prize for the best book by a woman historian, given by the Berkshire Women's History Conference (1988); the John Hope Franklin Prize for the best book in American Studies, given by the American Studies Association (1989); the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize for the best book in the area of gender and mental health, given by the Society for Medical Anthropology (1989); and the Watson Davis Prize for the best book in translating ideas for the public, given by the History of Science Society (1989).

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Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very detailed and interesting..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Am thoroughly enjoying Ms Brumbergs's book /purchased it as an E-book after a recent trip to Seneca Falls/ Very eye opening/. Sadly , as women we have evolved so much from the time of binding corsets only to be "corseted " by today's portrayal of the perfect body influencing young and adolescent women to such extremes as eating disorders and teenage plastic surgery in pursuit of perfection. Love the idea of using the diary as a research tool /probably one of the only ways to truly visit our "sisters " from the past
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mc02-TW More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book for anyone looking to further their intelligence on the female mind and body. I would highly recommend this to young women looking for past knowledge on how their cultures and styles have changed. To think back 100 years ago to how girls acted and dressed is very interesting to anyone. Not only is this an exceptional book for women but most men would enjoy it also. To broaden your knowledge and try to picture women acting and dressing in such creative ways makes you think what women will do 100 years from now. This book is very factual considering many quotes and pictures relating back to the 19th century. With the author¿s broad knowledge of this era and his keen way of describing women, this book will keep you attached and interested. Wonderful book, would recommend to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. Highly recommend to anyone who knows any females. Eye opening and a downright page turner, if u believe it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! was the first word that came to mind when I finished this book. Brumberg truly conveys what young women are thinking and doing by using authentic diary excerpts, written throughout history. She not only uses realistic voices, she also includes a number of pictures so the reader can visually understand what she's talking about. Nontheless, I recommend this book to anyone, who is interested in learning more about the 'changes' of females, throughout history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I look at these reviews and wonder (first of all) what the heck the last person said and why an educated person would seek to confuse people reading these reviews in the first place just to get their point across while alienating other people in the process. You've been through school and you should know to let things rest and that other people will have opinions different from your own. I read this book for my women's psychology class and found the history very interesting. It is rare that you find so thorough a compilation of research on the history of women in one book. Even the men in this class found it an easy read as exemplified in their presentations. I have found that the best things you can get from books are new perspectives and I think that this book really does give a new perspective on how the past was for women. What you get out of this book is just something to think about while you go on with your daily life and that is all I'm going to say.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had hoped for extensive photography to document the physiological development described. Without this the text communicates only in the female voice--the contemplations of the author and of adolescent girls. To be sure these contemplations are sophisticated, well-thought, and well-written. Nonetheless, mere text makes the books thesis inaccessible to--or at least does not communicate with the same visceral resonance--to men. Narrative text--particuarly narrative text on gender-specific developmental processes--needs to make an effort to communicate meaningfully accross the genders of readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do not know ho to explain because i have not read it but it soounds good ! I think girls these days need help understanding that they are growing they can not stop it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Honest, truthful, personal and relate-able.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is outstanding and have given it as gifts to other women because its message is so powerful. It is incredibly liberating to explore the artificial and transient nature of the physical standards we hold ourselves to as women. The previous reviewer's suggestion that more pictures are needed so that male readers can better understand what is meant by female adolescent physical maturation is absurd. Even if his claim that this book is accessible only to female readers (which is ridiculous) was true, my answer would be 'So what?' More than enough books have been written from and for the male perspective and women manage to read and understand them just fine. Get over it, man! :-) Happy reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please, someone tell me! :{]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book looks wrong!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I certainly appreciate the inordinate effort required for a housewife to opine, her non-scholarly analysis misses the mark. Nonetheless her effort is commendable so I will readdress the gist in the more readily comprehendible terms better understood by that author. History, physiology, medicine have thrust mankind into a century of unparalleled scientific sophistication. Attempts to add to that vast and honorable intellectual history should be cast in terms deferential to that tradition. Consideration of the scholarly, prurient, and aesthetic preferences of the schoarly gender should have resulted in more visual documentation of female adolescent development. To wit: not all scholars are woman or even necessarily a parents. Access to realistic depictions allowing visuo-spatial analysis would be quite gratifying to those of us so excluded.