“…. During the Depression, more African American women worked in popular movies than ever before. The hitch was that the place the film industry found for the black actress was in the kitchen or pantry or servants’ quarters….

“The Hollywood diva… was dressed by the studio in gingham and rags and made to speak a dem-and-dose dialect. Audiences saw black movie heroines playing servants–and rigidly stereotyped ones at that…. demeaning as Hollywood’s casting system was, some remarkable African American women were able to inject vigor and some pizzazz into their cheap trashy roles. Interestingly enough, the black woman of the 1930s films came–on her own terms–to represent beneath the stereotype the idea of energy, drive, spunk, and that good-old American virtue of self-reliance and self-sufficiency too: the ability to get through, no matter what…. giving in the long run intensely interesting, idiosyncratic performances….”

Donald Bogle, Brown Sugar: Over One Hundred Years of America’s Black Female Superstars, p. 73

“…. The image of the man gone to pot, fat and feminine, was increasingly common as appetite and exercise became more important in the 1950s and 1960s. If fatness was not caused by a deficient thyroid, fat nonetheless seemed to diminish another set of glands…. Peter Wyden, double-chinned executive editor of the Ladies Home Journal, wrote about The Overweight Society in 1965; three years later he co-authored Growing Up StraightWith his wife Barbara, woman’s editor for the New York Times Magazine, Peter Wyden found that the same constellation of overprotective mother and weak father that lay behind obesity was also responsible for homosexuality. To be fat not only threatened an immediate sexual neutering but an imminent sexual inversion….”

Hillel Schwartz, Never Satisfied: A Cultural History of Diets, Fantasies and Fat, p. 248

To echo Chastain’s intro in her post on Dances with Fat, I take no pleasure in Bob Harper’s health problems. I’m glad he’s getting the care he needs, and hope he has a successful recovery. However, his situation provides an exceptionally useful lesson in how “health” does not equal size, and we cannot overlook the ways that he profits from jeopardizing other people’s health by circulating this myth.



“… This cover is fat shaming not only to Tr-mp but also fat women in general. The artist claims it’s meant to demonstrate how Tr-mp’s misogyny ‘might just be his Achilles’ heel,’ but unfortunately the image trucks in the exact same misogyny it wants to critique. Because it makes the subject’s size the most obvious source of his status, it does not challenge the beauty standards it’s referencing at all.”

Cribbed from a post I wrote on Facebook a few months ago; I didn’t want to lose the idea. Thoughts also inspired and affirmed by this Guardian piece on the naked Trump statues.

“…. Despite the apparent contradiction, the role of the powerful abolitionist novel in promoting the faithful slave narrative is actually not surprising. The middle-class northern reading public that fueled the popularity of Uncle Tom’s Cabin prefigured the public that would romanticize the plantation South after Reconstruction. And the same sentimental characteristics that humanized enslaved people in (Harriet Beecher) Stowe’s eyes were present in the paternalistic myths espoused by the proslavery writers who challenged her critique.”

Micki McElya, Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth Century Americap. 10

“(Fannie) Hurst’s deployment of a corpulent mammy character (in Imitation of Life)… becomes even more intriguing if one reads it together with a brief autobiographical narrative she published two years later (in 1935) entitled No Food with My Meals. Therein Hurst describes her obsession with the slimming craze, which she says began to overcome her just as she was writing Imitation of Life. ‘Some women are born frail.’ she announces…. ‘Some have frailty thrust upon them. Still others achieve it, and at what price glory!’…. Having passed through the stage when she ‘pitied obesity in others, and did all in [her] power to either induce or or encourage it’ (33), Hurst reports that her current wish is to be freed from her obsession with food and dieting–though she fears that she is ‘too infected with this slimming phobia to hope for complete redemption’ (52).

“…. Though she never directly mentions Imitation of Life, she seems to be acknowledging that her own desire for and fear of food (and one of its bodily corollaries, fat) resulted in her having projected onto the (black mammy) character Delilah a psychology untouched by the slimming fad. Delilah, in other words, functions as a dual mode of novelistic wish fulfillment: she is both the object of Hurst’s derision, that which Hurst loathes in herself, and what Hurst wishes she could be–able to experience and satisfy her appetite ‘naturally’….”

Doris Witt, Black Hunger: Soul Food and America, p. 35