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Female Slenderness and the Case of Perverse Compliant Deception - or Why Size Matters...

Gamman, Lorraine (2013) Female Slenderness and the Case of Perverse Compliant Deception - or Why Size Matters... In: Fashion Cultures Revisited: Theories, Explorations and Analysis. Routledge, pp. 296-304. ISBN 9780415680066

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Gamman, Lorraine

In December 2012 the New Scientist responding to the ‘most comprehensive assessment of human health in the history of medicine’ noted that ‘excess weight is today a bigger health problem than malnutrition’. When I originally wrote about the culture of plenty and the fashion for super slenderness in Female Fetishism (1994) as being a perverse manifestation of the former, which led women to feast and vomit (either ensuring compliance to the slim feminine ideal through vomiting/bulimia or more typically yo-yo dieting) I had no idea that obesity was to become such a pressing issue or that the fetishism of slenderness would reach new proportions. This was almost twenty years ago and when suggesting women might eroticise food I had no idea that the ‘gastro porn industry’ would escalate in the way it has, promoting the idea that you are what you aspire to eat (even if one’s cordon bleu aspirations are read and watched whilst eating beans on diet toast). Today so many food programmes and celebrity chefs covered in the media regularly emphasise the need to eat more whilst being juxtaposed between diet advertisements and news bulletins about obesity, in retrospect my previous account of the meaning of ‘gastro porn’ (Bruzzi and Church Gibson, 2000) seems rather under stated.

The fashion for unrealistic slender images of women has increased despite all the current emphasis on cooking and/or consuming gourmet food. No wonder the fashion industry has met with doomed attempts to promote normal sized models (the April 2010 'plus' size issue of French Elle and Karl Largerfield’s response comes to mind) all of which seem either to have led nowhere or to have ended nastily. Even the singer Adele has been singled out for abuse linked to her size. When documenting women’s difficult relationship with food and making the case for female fetishism of food (‘food is often far more erotic and dangerous to women than sex’) my co-author and I did not anticipate that UK size 16 pop singers would still be the subject of fashion criticism 20 years on or that the latest ‘must have’ fashion accessory would be the gastric band.

This chapter aims to offer a new spin on ideas about women and slenderness. It will discuss the idea of perverse compliant deception in terms of i) changing fashions about how to lose weight and ii) how the use of health information may be linked to new forms of fetishist denial and/or possible self-oppression regarding the decision to resort to bariatric surgery.

Official Website: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415680066/
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Routledge
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Research Centres/Networks > Design Against Crime at the Innovation Centre (DAC)
Date: 15 November 2013
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2014 14:35
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 21:40
Item ID: 6927
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/6927

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