Over the past twenty-five years, our quest for thinness has morphed into a relentless obsession with weight and body image. In our culture, "fat" has become a four-letter word. Or, as Lance Armstrong said to the wife of a former teammate, "I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. But I never called you fat." How did we get to this place where the worst insult you can hurl at someone is "fat"? Where women and girls (and increasingly men and boys) will diet, purge, overeat, undereat, and berate themselves and others, all in the name of being thin? As a science journalist, Harriet Brown has explored this collective longing and fixation from an objective perspective; as a mother, wife, and woman with "weight issues," she has struggled to understand it on a personal level. Now, in Body of Truth, Brown systematically unpacks what's been offered as "truth" about weight and health. Starting with the four biggest lies, Brown shows how research has been manipulated; how the medical profession is complicit in keeping us in the dark; how big pharma and big, empty promises equal big, big dollars; how much of what we know (or think we know) about health and weight is wrong. And how all of those affect all of us every day, whether we know it or not. The quest for health and wellness has never been more urgent, yet most of us continue to buy into fad diets and unattainable body ideals, unaware of the damage we're doing to ourselves. Through interviews, research, and her own experience, Brown not only gives us the real story on weight, health, and beauty, but also offers concrete suggestions for how each of us can sort through the lies and misconceptions and make peace with and for ourselves.
Art museums and public galleries amass collections in order to preserve, document, research and exhibit collective histories as a culture. Edited by Anthony Kiendl, Obsession, Compulsion, Collection is a compilation of essays by leading Canadian and International curators and artists who explore collecting as a cultural act. Examining the meaning of art objects in a broader context, the book seeks to uncover the human impulse to collect and the social context, rhetoric, politics and science associated with cultural collections.
Obsession and Culture proposes that male sexual obsessions are the driving force of culture and are most clearly seen in fiction. Examples could be multiplied many times, but the main objectives of this study are to show how the work of five male authors coheres within a framework of psychodynamic theory and to stimulate enquiry along these lines. Many twentieth-century novelists speak for a male psycho-class needing imaginative externalization of obsessive sexual fantasies of control of women. Attraction, avoidance, and guilt are powerful motivators for writers and readers alike, and the moral ambiguity of serial monogamy, as well as other forms of exploitative sexuality, prompt certain writers to construct symbolic expiation and repair in fiction. Psychobiography is combined with fantasy analysis to suggest the pervasiveness in modern fiction of the wish to conquer and to control women and to atone for the guilt.
We live in an age of obsession. Not only are we hopelessly devoted to our work, strangely addicted to our favorite television shows, and desperately impassioned about our cars, we admire obsession in others: we demand that lovers be infatuated with one another in films, we respond to the passion of single-minded musicians, we cheer on driven athletes. To be obsessive is to be American; to be obsessive is to be modern. But obsession is not only a phenomenon of modern existence: it is a medical category—both a pathology and a goal. Behind this paradox lies a fascinating history, which Lennard J. Davis tells in Obsession. Beginning with the roots of the disease in demonic possession and its secular successors, Davis traces the evolution of obsessive behavior from a social and religious fact of life into a medical and psychiatric problem. From obsessive aspects of professional specialization to obsessive compulsive disorder and nymphomania, no variety of obsession eludes Davis’s graceful analysis.
Listening in on public conversation that recreates Elvis after death, Marcus tracks Presley's resurrection. He grafts together snatches of film, music, books, newspapers, photos, posters, and cartoons, and amazes us with what America has been saying as it raises its late king--and also what this obsession with dead Elvis says about America itself.
A spirited, engaging investigation into the concept of character, an enduring human obsession in literature, psychology, politics, and everyday life What is “character”? How can it be measured, improved, or built? Are character traits fixed or changeable? Is character innate, or can it be taught? Since at least the time of Aristotle, philosophers, theologians, moralists, artists, and scientists have engaged with the enigma of human character. In its oldest usage, “character” derives from a word for engraving or stamping, yet over time, it has come to mean a moral idea, a type, a literary persona, and a physical or physiological manifestation, observable in works of art and scientific experiments. It is an essential term in drama and the focus of self-help books. In Character: The History of a Cultural Obsession, Marjorie Garber points out that character seems more relevant than ever today—the term is omnipresent in discussions of politics, ethics, gender, morality, and the psyche. References to character flaws, character issues, character assassination, and allegations of “bad” and “good” character are inescapable in the media and in contemporary political debates. What connection does “character,” in this moral or ethical sense, have with the concept of a character in a novel or a play? Do our notions about fictional characters help to produce our ideas about moral character? Can character be formed, or taught, in schools, in scouting, in the home? From Plutarch to John Stuart Mill, from Shakespeare to Darwin, from Theophrastus to Freud, from nineteenth-century phrenology to twenty-first-century brain scans, the search for the sources and components of human character still preoccupies us. The question of character arises in virtually every area of modern life. And in each case, there is the same fundamental tension: is it innate or intrinsic to the individual, or something that can be learned or modeled? At a time when both the meaning and the value of this term are put in question, no issue is more important, and no topic more vital, surprising, and fascinating. With her distinctive verve, humor, and vast erudition, Marjorie Garber explores the stakes of these conflations, confusions, and heritages, from ancient Greece to the present day.
An award-winning Northwestern University psychology professor reveals how the cultural obsession with women's appearance is an epidemic that harms women's ability to get ahead and to live happy, meaningful lives, in this powerful, eye-opening work in the vein of Naomi Wolf, Peggy Orenstein, and Sheryl Sandberg. Today’s young women face a bewildering set of contradictions when it comes to beauty. They don’t want to be Barbie dolls but, like generations of women before them, are told they must look like them. They’re angry about the media’s treatment of women but hungrily consume the very outlets that belittle them. They mock modern culture’s absurd beauty ideal and make videos exposing Photoshopping tricks, but feel pressured to emulate the same images they criticize by posing with a "skinny arm." They understand that what they see isn’t real but still download apps to airbrush their selfies. Yet these same young women are fierce fighters for the issues they care about. They are ready to fight back against their beauty-sick culture and create a different world for themselves, but they need a way forward. In Beauty Sick, Dr. Renee Engeln, whose TEDx talk on beauty sickness has received more than 250,000 views, reveals the shocking consequences of our obsession with girls’ appearance on their emotional and physical health and their wallets and ambitions, including depression, eating disorders, disruptions in cognitive processing, and lost money and time. Combining scientific studies with the voices of real women of all ages, she makes clear that to truly fulfill their potential, we must break free from cultural forces that feed destructive desires, attitudes, and words—from fat-shaming to denigrating commentary about other women. She provides inspiration and workable solutions to help girls and women overcome negative attitudes and embrace their whole selves, to transform their lives, claim the futures they deserve, and, ultimately, change their world.
SOAP SAVES LIVES. But did you know that excessive use of soap and skin-care products are harming our health and the environment? Apart from in hand-washing there is no need to use soap on our bodies at all? Doctor and preventative medicine expert James Hamblin gave up showering five years ago and only ever uses soap on his hands. In Clean he introduces a new way to think about cleanliness - one that is cheaper, simpler and better for our skin, our immunity and the world in which we live. --- Hygiene prevents the spread of disease and saves countless lives. But in recent decades, rather than safeguarding us from illness, an obsession with 'cleanliness' seems to have been having the opposite effect. As we are now starting to realise, our overuse of soap, sanitizers and untested, misleading skin-care products is doing untold damage to our skin's vital microbial layer, which influences everything from acne, eczema and dry skin to how we smell. Not only might our obsession with soap-based cleanliness be exacerbating or even causing many of the skin conditions we seek to remedy or avoid, it may even be weaking our immune defences and increasing our vulnerability to allergies. Lucid, accessible, and deeply researched, Clean explains how we got here - thanks to the concerted efforts of the multi-billion-dollar cosmetics industry - and introduces us to the emerging science that will be at the forefront of health and wellness conversations in coming years. It shows that the new goal of skin care will be to cultivate a healthy biome and to embrace a natural approach to being clean.
We are living in an age of heightened individualism. Success is a personal responsibility. Our culture tells us that to succeed is to be slim, rich, happy, extroverted, popular—flawless. We have become self-obsessed. And our expectation of perfection comes at a cost. Millions are suffering under the torture of this impossible fantasy. The pressure to conform to this ideal has changed who we are.It was not always like this. To explain how we got here, award-winning journalist Will Storr leads us on a “terrific tour through the history of self-obsession†? (NPR,Â On Point) that explores the origins of this notion of the perfect self that torments so many of us: Where does this ideal come from? Why is it so powerful? Is there any way to break its spell?Full of thrilling and unexpected connections among history, psychology, economics, neuroscience, and more, Selfie is an unforgettable book that makes sense of who we have become. Ranging from Ancient Greece, through the Christian Middle Ages, to the self-esteem evangelists of 1980s California, the rise of the “selfie†? generation, and the era of hyper-individualism in which we live now, Selfie tells the epic tale of the person we all know so intimately—because it’s us.
Celebrity culture surrounds us. We are inundated with information about actors and actresses, athletes, musicians, and others who have become famous or infamous. Although we never will likely meet or get to know them, our interest in them seems boundless. We are literally obsessed with being entertained as well as with the people who entertain us. Who our celebrities are has also shifted; in the past, celebrity status was bestowed on men and women of great accomplishment, those who had given the world something to be proud of and to celebrate. Conversely, today’s celebrities are generally people involved in entertainment—from TV newscasters to people who appear on reality television programs, as well as some who are simply famous for being famous. What remains an enigma is why we, as a society, are so infatuated with being entertained, as well as with those who entertain us and appear in the media. This book makes sense of this spectacle by explaining the reasons for this obsession from a psychological, social, and historical perspective. It suggests that we have become addicted in much the same way that a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Finally, the author offers his observations on how to free our minds from this captivation. Anyone interested in understanding more about our need to live vicariously through the rich and famous will find answers in this book.