The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls

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9780679735298: The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls

"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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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 character 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.

Review:

Adolescent girls today face the issues girls have always faced: "Who am I?" and "Who do I want to be?" Unfortunately their answers, now more than ever before, revolve around the body rather than the mind, heart, or soul. "The body is at the heart of the crisis that [Carol] Gilligan, [Mary] Pipher, and others describe.... The fact that American girls now make the body their central project is not an accident or a curiosity," writes Brumberg, "it is a symptom of historical changes that are only now beginning to be understood." The historical photos, thorough research, and political even-handedness make this a book of worth and sincerity. The Body Project is also comforting for women, adolescents, parents, lesbians, and male lovers of women--helping us sort out the roots of female insecurities, obsessions, and angst.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 208 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Girls today are in crisis -- and this book shows why. Drawing on a vast array of lively historical sources, unpublished diaries by adolescent girls, and photographs that conjure up memories of the past, The Body Project chronicles how growing up in a female body has changed over the past century and why that experience is more difficult today than ever before. Girls bodies have certainly changed -- they mature much earlier -- but at the same time traditional social supports for girls growth and development have collapsed. The media and popular culture exploit girls normal sensitivity to their changing bodies, and many girls grow up believing that good looks -- rather than good works -- represent the highest form of female perfection. With an eye for the humor in as well as the pain of female adolescence, Joan Jacobs Brumberg shows how American girls came to define themselves increasingly through their appearance, so that today the body has become their primary project. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679735298

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 208 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Girls today are in crisis -- and this book shows why. Drawing on a vast array of lively historical sources, unpublished diaries by adolescent girls, and photographs that conjure up memories of the past, The Body Project chronicles how growing up in a female body has changed over the past century and why that experience is more difficult today than ever before. Girls bodies have certainly changed -- they mature much earlier -- but at the same time traditional social supports for girls growth and development have collapsed. The media and popular culture exploit girls normal sensitivity to their changing bodies, and many girls grow up believing that good looks -- rather than good works -- represent the highest form of female perfection. With an eye for the humor in as well as the pain of female adolescence, Joan Jacobs Brumberg shows how American girls came to define themselves increasingly through their appearance, so that today the body has become their primary project. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679735298

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Book Description Softcover. Book Condition: New. The questions and discussion topics that follow are intended to enhance your reading and discussion of Joan Jacobs Brumberg's The Body Project . We hope they will give you a number of interesting angles from which to approach Brumberg's provocative historical analysis of the experience of growing up in a female body during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries in America. Bookseller Inventory # 9546235

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