Big Mamma: An Icon of Abundance
Department of Literature and Modern Languages
Feminist Media Studies
The image of the black Mammy with her turban, dark skin, and large body is a dominant icon of black womanhood in American culture, and one of her functions is as progenitor of the “big mamma” image. This derivative icon, often literally known as Big Mamma, is generally a large, older, black woman who appears throughout American popular and literary productions. She is usually a grandmother and dedicated church member, often single, and almost inevitably a superior cook. Moreover, she and her home are associated with warmth, comfort, and epicurean abundance. As Mammy's iconographic progeny, Big Mamma's role in the white cultural imagination is easily apparent, her fat body operating as a naturalization of the culinary service with which black women in the United States have always been associated.
Shaw-Nevins, A. E. (2005). Big Mamma: An Icon of Abundance. Feminist Media Studies, 5 (1) https://doi.org/10.1080/14680770500058231