On Sunday, April 30th 2017, Oprah Winfrey, probably America’s best known talk show host,  sat down for that day’s episode of her weekly talk series SuperSoul Sunday.  She met Geneen Roth, author of several self-help books on eating, dieting and women’s spiritual life. Geneen and Oprah talked about a topic seemingly accompanying both middle-aged women for almost their whole lifetime, their long lasting “struggles” with food, dieting and their body—leading to life-changing insights Roth digested in her best-selling book “Women, Food and God.” I will, first, explore that show as a gateway to think about how food and body are dealt with in popular media. The show stands as a powerful example for how food and eating have become an…

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Through my research on black women’s exercise and fitness culture from 1900 to the 1930s, I discovered a little-known history of black fat shaming. While I expected to find that black women engaged in exercise for general health, I never imagined that some black women would craft their exercise programs for weight loss and at the same time participate in fat stigmatization. My surprise stemmed from common-sense assumptions about black people’s fat acceptance and flexible standards of beauty. Popular culture, academic studies on body image, and news outlets help to perpetuate these assumptions. R&B and Hip Hop is known for celebrating black women’s voluptuous bodies, including Drake who rapped famously he likes women “so thick that everybody else in the…

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Most of us probably know this situation. We hurry to catch a bus, but we are too late, too sluggish, and the bus takes off without us. We missed it! Sometimes we blame jammed doors and crowded streets; sometimes we blame the bus driver or other passengers who refused to wait or keep the doors open, even though we were almost there; sometimes we blame ourselves because we might have left earlier; and sometimes, we start wondering about our fitness and why we can’t run that fast anymore. At least that thought comes to my mind occasionally: “Wasn’t there a time when I was kind of faster and didn’t get out of breath that quickly when running for the bus?”…

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Low-carb diets have long ago become a fixture in the diet scene. Their high-protein meal plans often rely heavily on meat (although there are also attempts to adapt them for vegetarians, and the label “meat diet” is scorned by some low-carbers). Other approaches go even further and promote the idea of completely eliminating carbohydrates from the human diet. Living a “no-carb” or “zero-carb” lifestyle entails not only avoiding the usual “carb bombs” (grains, potatoes, rice, sugar) but also all kinds of vegetables, fruit, most dairy products – in short, almost everything except for meat (including fish), water and, for some “no-carbers” at least, eggs, heavy whipped cream and a little hard cheese. But many of them stick to just meat…

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  The average American will eat 2984 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over the course of their lifetime, according to a 2016 survey. If you piled all of those PB&Js on top of each other, the 373-foot stack of sandwiches would be taller than the Statue of Liberty. Two American icons going toe-to-crust, the executives at Peter Pan peanut butter who commissioned the survey must have pleased with the results. Among the simplest of modern American staples, the rise of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich illustrates many of the major themes of recent American history. The growing popularity of the PB&J in the twentieth century reflected changing family structures and child-rearing practices as well as the evolution of food…

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