Essay Summary and Response

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EssaySummary and Response

Theessay is a summary of the article, TheInner Corset byLaura Fraser. Fraser provides an argument of how fatness was highlyregarded in the American society during the 1800s, and howslenderness replaced the perception of being plump. The articlebegins by noting that a hundred years ago, women who wore corsets anda bustles to display their hips were highly respected and regardedbeautiful than the thin ones. Americans viewed fat women as fertileand warm to cuddle up during chilly nights. However, the societyexperienced some transformations that disregarded fat women. Thechanging economy in America resulted in the creation of industriesthat replaced fertile farming lands. People went to work in thecities, and immigrants crowded the industries to help in the labor.Wealthy Americans began relating slenderness as a symbol of finersensibilities and class distinction. The upper classes believed thatinfections such as tuberculosis were signs of intellectual andsuperior nature. The same class also viewed thinness as a sign ofmorality and being closer to God. The author provides an example ofBenjamin Franklin who encouraged his readers to eat light foods toplease God and attain a new divinity.

Moreover,scientific advancements such as the counting of calories, weighingpeople on scales, and calculating ideal weights encouraged peoplethat thinness is an indication of perfect health (13). Besides, inthe 20thcentury, cultural changes such as the consumer culture and womenbending the patriarchal laws made slenderness look ideal. Women beganworking and left out their duties as mothers together with theirplump livelihoods that seemed old fashioned. The consumer cultureencouraged thinness by displaying fashion adverts with slim modelsthus, creating an obsession with weight, which made women worktowards attaining a thin body.

Fraserorganized the essay in a compelling manner by first providing ahistorical background of how fat women were regarded beautiful andfertile. The text then changes its course and provides factors thatled to the society accepting thinness as a sign of beauty, morality,and being closer to God. The arguments in the text are accurate andcontain factual information, where we see the author quoting phrasesfrom other writers who were supporting eating light foods to becomeslender. The essay also provides a chronological order of events.Fraser’s article is more concerned about the cultural changes inthe society. The writing shares a connection with other materialssuch as Psst!`Human Capital` byDavid Brooks and Beyondthe Pleasure Principle byAnn Hulbert. Brooks notes how the society has transformed andmisunderstood the concept of human capital. He states that manypeople think like modern economists and policy makers who definehuman capital as the skills and knowledge that people require to findjobs and survive in the contemporary society. Besides, Hulbertdiscusses how the culture has changed with the rise of the babyboomers who have accepted gay marriage and abortion. She views theGen Nexters as forging their new crossover path regarding matterssuch as abortion and gay marriage.

Hulbert’sand Brook’s essays seem related to that of Fraser’s because theyall discuss the cultural changes that are evident in the society. Thetwo articles explain how the modern society is different from theolder generation. The assertions in the essays are parallel to whatFraser discusses regarding the notion from fat to thin.Inconclusively, although Fraser talks about fat and thin while theother articles focus on human capital abortion and gay marriage, itis evident that they all are referring to the cultural changes thathave shaped the modern society.


Fraser,Laura. “The Inner Corset: A Brief History of Fat in the UnitedStates.” TheFat Studies Reader. Ed.Esther Rothblum and Sandra Solovay. New York University Press, 2009.11-14. Print.