The Fattening House: A Narrative Analysis of the Big, Black and Beautiful Body Subjectivity Constituted On Large African American Women

by Prater, Angela Denise

Abstract (Summary)
This study examines the ways in which the binaries of a constitutive subjectivity and social reality constrain the identities of large African American women. This constitutive subjectivity is called the Big, Black and Beautiful Body (B4) narrative. The B4 narrative positions large African American women as having high body esteem regardless of current social messages that promote thin body image standards. To explain the operation and power of the B4 narrative, the fattening house, an old Nigerian custom, is used as a metaphor to demonstrate the house's roots to past racist stereotypes. This dissertation employs narrative analysis to critically access twenty in-depth interviews of large African American women and situate their lived experiences within the metaphorical fattening house. Findings reveal these women simultaneously resist and accept the B4 subjectivity and struggle between the binary of the B4 and their social reality. As such, the constitutive B4 subjectivity constrains their lives through four prominent narratives presented here as rooms within the fattening house. This study suggests large African American females constantly negotiate their identity to fit within the B4 subjectivity, although their social reality is not the same. It offers insight into how the large African American female subjectivity is overlooked and the B4 narrative functions to uphold past racist conceptions of black womanhood.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:african american women body image feminism cultural studies critical theory narrative qualitative


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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