Race, Femininity and Food: Femininity and the Racialization of Health and Dieting

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Abstract

‘Femininity as Portrayed within Western Society’ is a research study that explored the ways in which femininity, what Moi (1989) defined as a set of cultural attributes assigned to the female sex, is racialized within western culture. To uncover black and white women’s racialized perceptions of femininity a total of 42 women, 22 black and 20 white women were interviewed for this research. This paper will highlight the ways in which the discipline of diet is practised within the homes of white and black women in their endeavours reflect and perform femininity. With the white respondents, the message that is communicated within their homes, through the everyday practice of their mother’s eating, was that dieting was perceived and learnt as the ‘normal’ way to eat. Within the homes of the black respondents, however, food, rather than being something that was restricted, was about sociability, something to be shared out and enjoyed.

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