Dead Weight: Essays on Hunger and Harm

Knopf. Feb. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780593536902. $30. SOC SCI
Clein’s (Toxic) book is a personal and political scrutiny of disordered eating that draws attention to the painful ways in which societal preoccupations with thinness are compounded by some people’s desire to pathologize women’s bodies. By mashing up pop culture, personal narratives, psychological research, evidence-based studies, and feminist theory, this book of complex collection of essays shows how dangerous it is to strive for perfection and how quickly “perfect” can morph into disordered, diseased, monstrous, and shamed when the standard upheld by culture is, in and of itself, dangerously unreal. Some readers may find several of the book’s explanations too detailed or too dense. Others may perceive a few of the descriptions to be glamorized depictions of people who have been diagnosed with eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and orthorexia, but most content is presented with the appropriate tone and compassion.
VERDICT Written with acumen and care, this title will be of value to readers interested in learning more about media portrayals of disordered eating and feminist theory. Those drawn to the work of Roxane Gay, Elise Loehnen, and Susan Bordo will likely enjoy this title too.
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