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Institute for the Humanities pres.

FellowSpeak: “'How did you get fat anyway?': Black Women’s Diet and Exercise in the Mid-Twentieth Century"

Ava Purkiss

Eating for Health Eating for Health
Eating for Health
Assistant Professor of American Culture and Women's Studies, and 2018-19 Institute for the Humanities Charles P. Brauer Faculty Fellow Ava Purkiss gives a 30-minute talk followed by Q & A.

In 1959, black fashion and marketing expert Elsie Archer published Let’s Face It: A Guide to Good Grooming for Negro Girls in which she offered health and beauty advice to young black women. Before suggesting diet plans and exercise programs, she asked her readers: “How did you get fat anyway?” Archer added that avoiding fatness through diet and exercise would enable young black women to discover their feminine charms, enhance their appearances, and achieve a body that will “fit in.” My talk will examine how black women like Archer used nutrition advice, diet and exercise promotion, and fat shaming tactics to literally shape the fit black female body in the mid-twentieth century.
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