The Good Body (Paperback)

Asceticism in Contemporary Culture

By Letha B. Cole (Editor), Mary G. Winkler (Editor)

Yale University Press, 9780300183092, 256pp.

Publication Date: August 31, 1994

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (8/31/1994)

List Price: 26.00*
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What are the reasons for the current epidemic of eating disorders, the increasing obsession with exercise, diet, and cosmetic surgery, the constant exhortations to look and feel good? This engrossing book examines our concern with the "good body" from a wide variety of perspectives, putting it in the contexts of contemporary culture and of ancient ascetic practices of self-denial. A range of experts—psychiatrists, psychologists, literary scholars, historians, a philosopher, a theologian, an anthropologist, and the former director of a center for abused women—join together to discuss why control of our bodies has become so important in contemporary culture and why society must provide its members with more positive ways to define and empower themselves.

The authors discuss issues that shed light on current attitudes toward the body, such as the effects of sexual victimization on body image, a report defining the behavior of battered women as a form of maladaptive self-denial, the influence of science on predominant notions of the "good body" (for example, the "biomedical" version of premenstrual syndrome), the legal restrictions on diet pills and supplements, Flannery O'Connor's "celebration of embodiment" in her final novel, Parker's Back, the impact of cultural ideals of masculine beauty on men, and much more.

About the Author

Mary G. Winkler is assistant professor in the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas School of Medicine, Galveston. Letha B. Cole, M.D., is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine.