From the development of height and weight tables that established the notion of ideal body weight to the role of plus-size models in challenging thin privilege, my research interests connect studies of gender and sexuality, sociology of the body, medical sociology, and sociologies of work and the professions.
My book, Fashioning Fat: Inside Plus-Size Modeling (New York University Press 2015), examines the standards of work and image production in the plus-sized model industry. Fashioning Fat takes us through a model’s day-to-day activities, first at open calls at modeling agencies and then through fashion shows and photo shoots. I show us that the mission … Continue reading Fashioning Fat
In this ethnographic study of plus-size fashion models in New York City, I build on previous research that has only examined the staged performance of fat and, instead, focus attention on the “backstage” aesthetic labor process. Using participant observations and interviews, I document an intensive aesthetic labor process, whereby these models continually developed their bodies according … Continue reading Disciplining Corpulence
The death knell of the Body Mass Index (BMI) is sounding as evidence of its ineffectiveness as a reliable measure of health builds. Many recent studies confirm that BMI, our standard measure of body fat and general health, may be faulty. Studies investigating and calculating mortality risks based on body weight measures, are part of … Continue reading A 200-Year Weight Debate
Plus-size models made headlines in 2015, signaling a shift towards greater size diversity in fashion. Are these successes part of a spectacle that will soon fade or, rather, the start of a fashion revolution? Developments indicate this is not a passing fad, as significant institutional changes have occurred within modeling agencies and designers are responding to a … Continue reading Beauty Beyond a Size 16
This article examines the historical origins of the notion of “ideal” body weight by tracing the evolution of the gender-specific height and weight table in the United States from 1836 to 1943. Fewer than 200 years ago, weight was not regarded as an important health issue. At the turn of the twentieth century, low body weight, … Continue reading From Average to Ideal
Present-day readers will no doubt be unperturbed by Dr Brandreth Symonds’ arguments that too much fat is detrimental to one’s health, i.e. overweight individuals are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes and an expanding abdominal girth increases mortality risks. Living during what the World Health Organization has dubbed a ‘globesity’ epidemic, we take … Continue reading Symonds’ curious fat fact
MODELING AGENCIES WANT TO REPRESENT WOMEN OF ALL SIZES. BUT THE FASHION INDUSTRY WON’T LET THEM. The standards are still impossibly strict. By Amanda M. Czerniawski Robyn Lawley made a name for herself last week when she became the first plus-size model featured in a swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. It’s great to see a … Continue reading The Washington Post