Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

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In her first book, sociologist Strings (sociology, Univ. of California, Irvine) explores the historical development of prothin, antifat ideologies deployed in support of Western, patriarchal white supremacy. Beginning in the aesthetic ideals circulated by Renaissance thinkers and artists and bringing her narrative up into the 1990s, Strings charts how white Europeans and Anglo-Americans developed ideals of race and beauty that both explicitly and figuratively juxtaposed slim, desirable white women against corpulent, seemingly monstrous black women.

The work is divided into three sections. The two chapters in the first part consider how Renaissance white women and women of color were depicted as plump and feminine, separated by class, yet belonging to the same gender. The second part of the work charts the rise of modern racial ideologies that yoked feminine beauty to Protestant, Anglo-Saxon whiteness. Later chapters and the epilogue consider how Americans normalized the "scientific management" of white women's bodies for the purpose of racial uplift, a project that continued to situate black women as the embodied Other.

The author does not address fat from the angle of health or previous attitudes white Europeans held towards corpulence.

Title:Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia
ISBN:9781479886753
Format Type:

    Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia Reviews

  • Alok Vaid-Menon

    Strings’s book is an urgent and compelling work not just for conversations around fatphobia, but for the idea of race more generally. Many are taught that racial difference is a matter of “biologi...

  • Thomas

    A thorough and accessible book about how fatphobia originated from anti-Black racism. I feel like a lot of body positivity and anti-fatphobia movements in the United States focus on the experiences of...

  • Mara

    4.5 stars -- Wow. This has given me so much to mull over. I would describe this as an intellectual history of ideas, with the ideas in question being the aesthetic ideals around fatness in European & ...

  • Bethany

    Fearing the Black Body traces the origins of fat phobia and unpacks how it is grounded in racist and eugenicist ideas. It's very well researched and offers a great deal of interesting, thought-provoki...

  • Ross Blocher

    Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia contains many interesting stories about historic, artistic, aesthetic, religious and medical views of the "ideal" human [usually female] body, ...

  • Siria

    A fascinating book, Fearing the Black Body explores how fatness became linked to Blackness in Western popular discourse from the sixteenth century onwards, and how intersecting racial, gender, and rel...

  • IquoImoh Terry

    A must read especially in our present time. When will we stop seeing the black body as something to be feared but one to be uplifted. This book is one that I will recommend for my book club....

  • Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore

    3.5 stars Sabrina String's, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia looks at the historical evolution of body and beauty standards and how they coincide with the degradation of Bla...

  • Jennifer

    This was informative, but it was quite dry. If history is your jam, you'll be more likely to appreciate and enjoy this, and I'm grateful for the things that I learned (even if I only manage to retain ...

  • Cassie

    I really wanted more from this book. It was a great series of historical events laid out, but less commentary and analysis than I wanted. From what I understand it was written for academic purposes, s...