Cover: Fat Talk: What Girls and Their Parents Say about Dieting, from Harvard University PressCover: Fat Talk in PAPERBACK

Fat Talk

What Girls and Their Parents Say about Dieting

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$33.00 • £28.95 • €30.95

ISBN 9780674006812

Publication Date: 12/14/2001


286 pages

10 tables


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[In] Fat Talk: What Girls and Their Parents Say about Dieting, the alleged silence of girls is penetrated by adults asking relevant, open-ended questions that play to the characteristic self-centeredness of the adolescent years… Nichter’s careful listening confirmed the contemporary generation’s preoccupations with ‘body projects.’ But it also penetrated beneath all the dissatisfaction and frustration to determine if young girls really were dieting, and what purposes ‘fat talk’ actually serves. The answer is that dieting is neither consistent nor extreme among teenagers, and that fat talk is a form of ritualistic speech used by girls as an idiom of distress, a call for support, a marker of group affiliation, and a way of establishing honesty, vulnerability, and humility… Nichter’s insight that fat talk is actually part of a larger pattern of female self-deprecation is important.—Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Anthropologist Nichter spent three years studying and interviewing teenage girls about their attitudes toward appearance, eating habits, and dieting… The reader gains a better understanding of teenage girls through the readable narrative that describes the results of the study.—Deborah L. Dubois, VOYA

Fat Talk is a benchmark of sanity on an issue that too often defies common sense. In this sympathetic, useful book, Mimi Nichter describes the realities of dieting and the complex process by which girls and women embrace an elusive physical ideal.—Terri Apter, author of Altered Loves: Mothers and Daughters during Adolescence

In this wonderful book, Mimi Nichter provides a tantalizing glimpse into the intimate world of adolescent girls. What girls say to their parents, girlfriends, and boyfriends about attractiveness and weight—and what they say they hear back—is surprising and sometimes troubling. Nichter’s insights on the many meanings of ‘fat talk’ are shrewd and original, and keep us reminded of the complexity of girls’ relationships with their physical selves, and the power of family talk, too.—Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

In interpreting data from more than 200 interviews of teenage girls, Nichter calls into question a number of previously held beliefs about adolescent girls, eating, eating disorders, and dieting… Through Fat Talk, Nichter presents a comprehensive picture of the pervasive and powerful cultural messages concerning women’s bodies and the effects that socially defined standards of beauty have on young women’s thinking, relationships, emotional development, and, in some cases, physical development… More than anything, Fat Talk shows how the conversations of these girls initially bind them around the common experience of attempting to meet an impossible standard.—Mary Ruth Lacock, Ph.D.

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