More related to body image

See the author featured in the "New Books in History" podcast: http://newbooksinhistory.com/2011/04/01/erik-jensen-body-by-weimar-athletes-gender-and-german-modernity-oxford-up-2010/ In Body by Weimar, Erik N. Jensen shows how German athletes reshaped gender roles in the turbulent decade after World War I and established the basis for a modern body and modern sensibility that remain with us to this day. The same cutting-edge techniques that engineers were using to increase the efficiency of factories and businesses in the 1920s aided athletes in boosting the productivity of their own flesh and bones. Sportswomen and men embodied modernity-quite literally-in its most streamlined, competitive, time-oriented form, and their own successes on the playing fields seemed to prove the value of economic rationalization to a skeptical public that often felt threatened by the process. Enthroned by the media as culture's trendsetters, champions in sports such as tennis, boxing, and track and field also provided models of sexual empowerment, social mobility, and self-determination. They showed their fans how to be modern, and, in the process, sparked heated debates over the aesthetics of the body, the limits of physical exertion, the obligations of citizens to the state, and the relationship between the sexes. If the images and debates in this book strike readers as familiar, it might well be because the ideal body of today-sleek, efficient, and equally available to men and women-received one of its earliest articulations in the fertile tumult of Germany's roaring twenties. After more than eighty years, we still want the Weimar body.
Georges Vigarello maps the evolution of Western ideas about fat and fat people from the Middle Ages to the present, paying particular attention to the role of science, fashion, fitness crazes, and public health campaigns in shaping these views. While hefty bodies were once a sign of power, today those who struggle to lose weight are considered poor in character and weak in mind. Vigarello traces the eventual equation of fatness with infirmity and the way we have come to define ourselves and others in terms of body type.

Vigarello begins with the medieval artists and intellectuals who treated heavy bodies as symbols of force and prosperity. He then follows the shift during the Renaissance and early modern period to courtly, medical, and religious codes that increasingly favored moderation and discouraged excess. Scientific advances in the eighteenth century also brought greater knowledge of food and the body's processes, recasting fatness as the "relaxed" antithesis of health. The body-as-mechanism metaphor intensified in the early nineteenth century, with the chemistry revolution and heightened attention to food-as-fuel, which turned the body into a kind of furnace or engine. During this period, social attitudes toward fat became conflicted, with the bourgeois male belly operating as a sign of prestige but also as a symbol of greed and exploitation, while the overweight female was admired only if she was working class. Vigarello concludes with the fitness and body-conscious movements of the twentieth century and the proliferation of personal confessions about obesity, which tied fat more closely to notions of personality, politics, taste, and class.

At the end of World War II, many Americans longed for a return to a more normal way of life after decades of depression and war. In fact, between 1945 and 1963 the idea of "normality" circulated as a keyword in almost every aspect of American culture. But what did this term really mean? What were its parameters? Whom did it propose to include and exclude?

In Perfectly Average, Anna Creadick investigates how and why "normality" reemerged as a potent homogenizing category in postwar America. Working with scientific studies, material culture, literary texts, film, fashion, and the mass media, she charts the pursuit of the"normal" through thematic chapters on the body, character, class, sexuality, and community.

Creadick examines such evidence as the "Norm and Norma" models produced during the war by sexologists and anthropologists -- statistical composites of"normal" American bodies. In 1945, as thousands of Ohio women signed up for a Norma Look-Alike contest, a "Harvard Study of Normal Men" sought to define the typical American male according to specific criteria, from body shape to upbringing to blood pressure. By the early 1950s, the "man in the gray flannel suit" had come to symbolize what some regarded as the stultifying sameness of the "normalized" middle class. Meanwhile, novels such as From Here to Eternity and Peyton Place both supported and challenged normative ideas about gender, race, and sexuality, even as they worked to critique the postwar culture of surveillance -- watching and being watched -- through which normalizing power functioned.

As efforts to define normality became increasingly personal, the tensions em-bedded in its binary logic multiplied: Was normal descriptive of an average or prescriptive of an ideal? In the end, Creadick shows, a variety of statistics, assumptions, and aspirations converged to recast "normality" not as something innate or inborn, but rather as a quality to be actively pursued -- a standard at once highly seductive and impossible to achieve because it required becoming perfectly average.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as young women began entering college in greater numbers than ever before, physicians and social critics charged that campus life posed grave hazards to the female constitution and women's reproductive health. "A girl could study and learn," Dr. Edward Clarke warned in his widely read 1873 book Sex in Education, "but she could not do all this and retain uninjured health, and a future secure from neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system." For half a century, ideas such as Dr. Clarke's framed the debate over a woman's place in higher education almost exclusively in terms of her body and her health.

For historian Margaret A. Lowe, this obsession offers one of the clearest expressions of the social and cultural meanings given to the female body between 1875 and 1930. At the same time, the "college girl" was a novelty that tested new ideas about feminine beauty, sexuality, and athleticism. In Looking Good, Lowe examines the ways in which college women at three quite different institutions—Cornell University, Smith College, and Spelman College—regarded their own bodies in this period. Contrasting white and black students, single-sex and coeducational schools, secular and religious environments, and Northern and Southern attitudes, Lowe draws on student diaries, letters, and publications; institutional records; and accounts in the popular press to examine the process by which new, twentieth-century ideals of the female body took hold in America.

Celebrity culture today teems with stars who challenge long-held ideas about a "normal" body. Plus-size and older actresses are rebelling against the cultural obsession with slender bodies and youth. Physically disabled actors and actresses are moving beyond the stock roles and stereotypes that once constrained their opportunities. Stars of various races and ethnicities are crafting new narratives about cultural belonging, while transgender performers are challenging our culture's assumptions about gender and identity. But do these new players in contemporary entertainment media truly signal a new acceptance of body diversity in popular culture?

Focusing on six key examples—Melissa McCarthy, Gabourey Sidibe, Peter Dinklage, Danny Trejo, Betty White, and Laverne Cox—Rebellious Bodies examines the new body politics of stardom, situating each star against a prominent cultural anxiety about bodies and inclusion, evoking issues ranging from the obesity epidemic and the rise of postracial rhetoric to disability rights, Latino/a immigration, an aging population, and transgender activism. Using a wide variety of sources featuring these celebrities—films, TV shows, entertainment journalism, and more—to analyze each one's media persona, Russell Meeuf demonstrates that while these stars are promoted as examples of a supposedly more inclusive industry, the reality is far more complex. Revealing how their bodies have become sites for negotiating the still-contested boundaries of cultural citizenship, he uncovers the stark limitations of inclusion in a deeply unequal world.

Pop culture and the media today are saturated with the focus on the aesthetics of the human body. Magazines and infotainment shows speculate whether this or that actress had breast implants or a nose job. Americans are not just focusing on celebrities but on themselves too and today have unprecedented opportunities to rework what nature gave them. One can now drop in to have cosmetic surgery at the local mall. Contemplating the superficial nature of it all grows tiresome, and pop culture vultures and students can get a better fix for their fascination with the body beautiful through the cultural insight provided in this amazing set. Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body is a treasure trove of essays that explore the human body alphabetically by part, detailing practices and beliefs from the past and present and from around the world that are sometimes mind-blowing and eye-popping.

Body parts are examined through a multifaceted cultural lens. Readers will explore how the parts are understood, what they mean to disparate societies, how they are managed, treated, and transformed, and how they are depicted and represented. The entries draw from many disciplines that are concerned to some degree or another with human bodies, including anthropology archeology, sociology, religion, political history, philosophy, art history, literary studies, and medicine. The encyclopedia proffers information on a number of cultures, tribes, and customs from East and West. Ancient practices to the latest fad, which in fact might continue ancient practices, are illuminated. Other considerations that arise in the essays include comparisons among cultures, the changing perceptions of the body, and issues of race, gender, religion, community and belonging, ethnicity, power structures, human rights.

An award-winning journalist tackles the hot topic of male body image and shows how physical size during childhood affects our psychology, social status, relationships, and income as adults.

With a mix of fresh research, incisive reportage, and bracing candor, Size Matters traces the surprising history of society’s bias against shortness and reveals how short people can and do thrive in spite of this insidious bigotry. Drawing on his own childhood experiences (he was shorter than 99 percent of boys his age), Stephen Hall explains the evolution of the growth chart, the biology of childhood aggression, and the wrenching phenomenon of bullying. He explores the factors that determine why one child’s small stature may lead to anguish while another short child develops an emotional resilience that will enrich his later life. Weaving together recent findings from the fields of animal behavior, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Hall assesses the role of physical size in mating success and argues that the alpha male may not be king of the mountain after all.
Hall also pinpoints the social forces that create and cash in on our anxieties about size, from bulked-up superhero action figures to pharmaceutical companies selling growth hormone to increase a child’s height -- at a cost of up to $40,000 a year. He introduces us to families who have agonized over whether to make that huge investment. He explains new research showing that a person’s height as a teenager has lifelong psychological consequences. He even tracks down kids he bullied in elementary school and kids who bullied him in high school to show that these childhood encounters have lasting effects on our adult lives. Along the way, Hall builds a persuasive case against societal attitudes that make size (or any difference) matter and argues forcefully that being short has psychological, social, and biological advantages. Size Matters will raise the consciousness -- and the spirits -- of any short male and anyone who cares about him.
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