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Publisher's Summary

How the female body has been racialized for more than 200 years

There is an obesity epidemic in this country, and poor Black women are particularly stigmatized as "diseased" and a burden on the public health-care system. This is only the most recent incarnation of the fear of fat Black women, which Sabrina Strings shows took root more than 200 years ago. 

Strings weaves together an eye-opening historical narrative ranging from the Renaissance to the current moment, analyzing important works of art, newspaper and magazine articles, and scientific literature and medical journals - where fat bodies were once praised - showing that fat phobia, as it relates to Black women, did not originate with medical findings, but with the Enlightenment era belief that fatness was evidence of "savagery" and racial inferiority. 

The author argues that the contemporary ideal of slenderness is, at its very core, racialized and racist. Indeed, it was not until the early 20th century, when racialized attitudes against fatness were already entrenched in the culture, that the medical establishment began its crusade against obesity. An important and original work, Fearing the Black Body argues convincingly that fat phobia isn't about health at all, but rather a means of using the body to validate race, class, and gender prejudice.

©2019 New York University (P)2020 Tantor

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What listeners say about Fearing the Black Body

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

A great in-depth history and analysis of body image standards and fat phobia. Important historical context that is well worth the read/listen.

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Necessary read.

This challenged fatphobia and points out the uncomfortable truth that it's rooted in white supremacy and eugenics. If you're white you have to read this.

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boring narrator

I can't get through this book, the narrator is boring me to death. I can't even pay attention to the content! Just noise. Wasted money.

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I had no idea...

My body acceptance journey led me to this book. I had no idea that fatphobia had its root in racism but it totally makes sense. I really enjoyed how the book navigates you through history to lay out how we came to fear and hate fatness. I would highly recommend!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-11-04

Enlightening!

Highly recommend. Everyone acts like fat is the enemy...now I understand the genesis of the phobia. Great in pulling it all together.

5 people found this helpful

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  • linsey
  • 2021-04-01

Please re-record with the author

My only regret is that the author isn’t reading this. I want her voice reading this important work.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica Rosewillow
  • 2021-01-18

A must-read for anyone in medicine or public health

I bought this book as part of researching an academic article and found it so rich and compelling that I had to completely rewrite my chapter around Strings’ work. As a specialist in health equity, this book is timely, well researched, and surprising even for people already knowledgeable about the role of antiblackness in medicine. An absolutely crucial challenge to the diet industry and continuing medical racism.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-03-16

Highly educational. Really recommend.

Not only is this educational for the purpose of understanding the origins of fatphobia I believe this does an incredible job of explaining how racial bias is at the root cause of most health/weight criticisms/even moral stigma behind being larger bodied people.

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  • DEM
  • 2021-03-08

Dryly presented historical detail

Subject was interesting but I couldn’t listen long at one time because it was delivered in a monotone.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Shari Bye
  • 2022-06-26

Review of Fear of the Black Body

Comprehensive analysis of historical and social aversion to fatness in society, especially toward Black women.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2022-05-05

very educational

It felt very thorough, and clearly explained the history and repercussionsof the topic. I learned a lot from it.

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  • Erin Guimon
  • 2022-04-09

Excellent Book

This was excellent. I feel like it filled in a knowledge gap I wasn’t aware I had.

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  • Penguin
  • 2022-04-07

fascinating!

I really enjoyed the deep dive into the history of the body and the impact of weight, race, class had on its perception and the intersection of the body with all the above plus health and beauty. Narrator was also very good!

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  • Lim Leigh
  • 2022-03-01

Well researched & informative

As a healthcare provider, I was always aware of racial disparities in patient outcomes. This book finally explains why and where this all began and why and how it continues today. At times, it was difficult to listen to, but necessary. We need to know why BIPOC are treated the way they are in the medical field in hopes that those who learn about this can make a change. Very impressed by the amount of research put into this. I will recommend this to all my peers, friends & family.