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“Not fat, maybe thick, not too skinny”: Resisting and Reproducing Health and Beauty Discourses in Urban Jamaica

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Title: “Not fat, maybe thick, not too skinny”: Resisting and Reproducing Health and Beauty Discourses in Urban Jamaica
Author: Barned, Claudia
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: O'Doherty, Kieran
Abstract: This dissertation critically analyzes the ways in which urban Jamaican women position themselves within culturally available discourses on health and beauty. Forty-One Jamaican women from the Kingston and St. Andrew area of Jamaica were interviewed about their conceptualizations of health and beauty. I examine varied meanings of health, and identify the dominant and subversive health discourses (the healthism discourse, obesity epidemic discourse and slim-thick healthy body discourse) that are available to Jamaican women. Using a feminist post-structuralist framework, I analyze how Jamaican women take up, resist and partially resist these discourses. I then describe the characteristics of a beautiful body in Jamaica. I identify a light-skinned beauty ideal and demonstrate the pervasiveness of this conceptualization of beauty. I also illustrate how Jamaican women refer to Jamaica’s history of colonialism and slavery as explanations for modern-day conceptualizations of beauty in Jamaica. I show how notions of beauty intersect with socially constructed categories of race and class and discuss the intersection of gender, race, and class in relation to the subjectivities of urban Jamaican women. I conclude by considering the need for more inclusive ways of thinking and speaking about women’s bodies in Jamaica and beyond.
Date: 2017-07
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada