Dead Weight

Essays on Hunger and Harm

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Pub Date 27 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 28 Mar 2024

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Description

A personal and cultural look at the dark underbelly of Western beauty standards and the lethal culture of disordered eating they've wrought

“Electric with insight, and suffused with a strange, stubborn tenderness—a deep regard for what intimacy, hope, and resistance might look like in a world where women are taught to devote their lives to destroying themselves.” —Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering


In Dead Weight, Emmeline Clein recounts her struggle with disordered eating alongside the stories of other women: historical figures, pop culture celebrities, and the girls she’s known and loved. Through the story of her own sickness, the raw recollections of interview subjects, and dispatches from social media rabbit holes, Clein challenges stereotypes and renders statistics and science deeply personal and urgent. From her first encounters with icons of the thin ideal to her years ricocheting between hunger and bingeing, from the pro-anorexia blog that unexpectedly saved someone’s life to the residential treatment centers that make so many people sicker, from a wrenching elegy for those who didn’t survive to a manifesto for sisterhood, solidarity, and recovery, Clein uncovers girlhood’s appetites and injuries to reveal the economic, cultural, and political history of an epidemic.

Dead Weight makes the case that we are faced with a culture of suppression, self-denial, and self-harm, an insidious, pervasive, and dangerous American cult of femininity rooted in racism and misogyny. Tracing the medical and cultural histories of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder and investigating the recent rise of orthorexia, Clein reveals the economic conditions underpinning diet culture, and grapples with the ways today’s feminism can be complicit in propping up the fetish of self-shrinking.

Drawing on a kaleidoscopic array of sources—from cult classic films like Jennifer’s Body to the aughts-era Tumblrverse, the writing of Simone Weil, Chris Kraus, and Anne Boyer to the medieval canon of anorexic saints—Clein calls for a feminism that doesn’t compel women to shrink their bodies to increase their value, urging radical acceptance of all our appetites instead: for food, connection, and love. A sharp, perceptive, and revelatory polemic about the external forces that shape our lives, Dead Weight is electrifying, unapologetically bold, and fiercely compassionate.
A personal and cultural look at the dark underbelly of Western beauty standards and the lethal culture of disordered eating they've wrought

“Electric with insight, and suffused with a strange...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780593536902
PRICE $30.00 (USD)
PAGES 288

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