CAHSS Faculty Articles

Title

Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings [Book Review]

Department

Department of Writing and Communication

Publication Date

5-7-2020

Publication Title

Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society

ISSN

2160-486X

Volume

10

Issue/No.

1

Abstract

Excerpt

In Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, sociologist Sabrina Strings explores how compulsory slenderness has evolved as a critical feature of the beauty arena and how it is undergirded by circulating notions about race, class, and gender. More specifically, she interrogates how the marginalization of blackness and fatness as esthetic values collaborate to situate the bodies of fat, black, women on the outskirts of contemporary imaginings of beauty. Fearing the Black Body deconstructs this ideological posture, and Strings makes the argument that “two critical historical developments contributed to a fetish for svelteness and a phobia about fatness: the rise of the transatlantic slave trade and the spread of Protestantism” (6). She further suggests that “the phobia about fatness and the preference for thinness have not, principally or historically, been about health. Instead, they have been one way the body has been used to craft and legitimate race, sex, and class hierarchies” (6). Strings manages to pull from an impressive array of historical artifacts, including paintings, books, and magazines, to trace the consummation of these ideological postures toward the body, and in the process offers readers a coherent and sophisticated analysis of how they have come to hold current ideals relating to beauty and the body.

DOI

10.1080/21604851.2020.1747721

Peer Reviewed

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