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The Body Project

An Intimate History of American Girls

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
"Timely and sympathetic . . . a work of impassioned advocacy."         --People

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 inner beauty 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.

"Joan Brumberg's book offers us an insightful and entertaining history behind the destructive mantra of the '90s--'I hate my body!'" --Katie Couric
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"Timely and sympathetic . . . a work of impassioned advocacy."         --People

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 inner beauty 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.

"Joan Brumberg's book offers us an insightful and entertaining history behind the destructive mantra of the '90s--'I hate my body!'" --Katie Couric
Product Details
Paperback (336 pages)
Published: September 1, 1998
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780679735298
Other books byJoan Jacobs Brumberg
  • Kansas Charley

    Kansas Charley
    The Boy Murderer
    Most Americans regard “kids who kill” as a modern phenomenon, but the tragic tale of “Kansas Charley” shows that violent boys are a long-standing problem. Charles Miller was a seventeen–year–old orphan who was hanged in Wyoming in 1892 for a horrific double murder committed when he was only fifteen. This true story takes us into a world of poverty and abuse, revealing the people and places that shaped Charley’s behavior, his crime and his punishment. The author brings to life a thought–provoking chapter in the history of the juvenile justice system.

    Fasting Girls

    Fasting Girls
    The History of Anorexia Nervosa

    Thin

    Thin
    Critically acclaimed for Girl Culture and Fast Forward, Lauren Greenfield continues her exploration of contemporary female culture with Thin, a groundbreaking book about eating disorders. Greenfield's photographs are paired with extensive interviews and journal entries from twenty girls and women who are suffering from various afflictions. We meet 15-year-old Brittany, who is convinced that being thin is the only way to gain acceptance among her peers; Alisa, a divorced mother of two whose hatred of her body is manifested in her relentless compulsion to purge; Shelly, who has been battling anorexia for six years and has had a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach; as well as many others. Alongside these personal stories are essays on the sociology and science of eating disorders by renowned researchers Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Dr. David Herzog, and Dr. Michael Strober. These intimate photographs, frank voices, and thoughtful discussions combine to make Thin not only the first book of its kind but also a portrait of profound understanding.

    A Paradise for Boys and Girls

    A Paradise for Boys and Girls
    Children's Camps in the Adirondacks

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • At the close of the twentieth century, the female body poses an enormous problem for American girls, and it does so because of the culture in which we live. (Introduction)

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  • It is time for us to talk--squarely and fairly--about the ways in which American girlhood has changed and what girls must have to ensure a safe and creative future.

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