Synopses & Reviews
What is too fat? Too thin? Interpretations of body weight vary widely across and within cultures. Meeting weight expectations is a major concern for many people because failing to do so may incur dire social consequences, such as difficulty in finding a romantic partner or even in locating adequate employment. Without these social and cultural pressures, body weight would be only a health issue. While socially constructed standards of body weight may seem immutable, they are continuously re-created through social interactions that perpetuate or transform expectations about fatness and thinness. Understanding social constructions of body weight requires insight regarding how people develop and use constructions in their daily lives. While structural conditions and cultural environments make important contributions to weight constructions, the chapters in this book focus on the social processes in which people engage while they interpret, negotiate, resist, and transform cultural definitions and expectations. As such, most of the chapters in this volume borrow from and contribute to a symbolic interactionist perspective. Written by sociologists, psychologists, and nutritionists, all of the chapters in Interpreting Weight focus on how people construct fatness and thinness. The contributors examine different strategies used to interpret body weight, such as negotiating weight identities, reinterpreting weight, and becoming involved in weight-related organizations. Together, these chapters emphasize the many ways that people actively define, construct, and enact their fatness and thinness in a variety of settings and situations. 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, Weighty Issues: Fatness and Thinness as Social Problems, and Eating Agendas: Food and Nutrition as Social Problems.
Table of Contents
Social management of fatness and thinness /Donna Maurer and Jeffery Sobal --Adoption and management of a "fat" identity /Douglas Degher and Gerald Hughes --Identity management among overweight women: narratve resistance to stigma /Gina Cordell and Carol Rambo Ronai --Fighting back: reactions and resistance to the stigma of obesity /Leanne Joanisse and Anthony Synnott --From "dieting" to "healthy eating": an exploration of shifting constructions of eating for weight control /Gwen E. Chapman --Medical discourse on body image: reconceptualizing the differences between women with and without eating disorders /Susan Haworth-Hoeppner --Weight and weddings: the social construction of beautiful brides /Jeffery Sobal, Caron Bove, and Barbara Rauschenbach --Let go and let God: religion and the politics of surrender in Overeaters Anonymous /Rebecca J. Lester --Fat world/thin world: "fat busters," "equivocators," "fat boosters," and the social construction of obesity /Karen Honeycutt --Creating "uniformity": the construction of bodies in women's collegiate cross country /Elizabeth Ransom --Pounds of flesh: weight, gender, and body images /Thomas F. Cash and Robin E. Roy --Re-evaluating the weight-centered approach toward health: the need for a paradigm shift /Jeanine C. Cogan.