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A fate worse than death : pregnancy weight gain and the thinness ideal

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A fate worse than death : pregnancy weight gain and the thinness ideal

Tolwinski, Kasia (2010) A fate worse than death : pregnancy weight gain and the thinness ideal. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This Master's thesis, entitled "A fate worse than death: Pregnancy weight gain and the thinness ideal," interrogates scientific discourse on pregnancy weight gain, focusing on medical literature published between 1990 and 2009. In 1990, the Institute of Medicine changed their official gestational weight gain recommendations out of fears that women were not gaining enough weight in pregnancy, resulting in low birth weights. More recently, a fervour surrounding the so-called childhood obesity epidemic has fueled much scientific debate about the possibility that women are gaining too much weight. Thus it is now being suggested that women's weight gain should be restricted to alleviate society's obesity. Although the experts' position on pregnancy weight gain shifts over time, consistent across the dataset (1990-2009) is an understanding of women's bodies as the origin of childhood health. I argue that medical discourse on weight gain in pregnancy has historically created an embodied ideal as a requirement of motherhood and femininity; more recently this ideal has necessarily been linked not only to dominant discourses of obesity, which is seen as costly, burdensome, and undesirable, but also to dominant notions of good motherhood. Building on Foucault's genealogical approach, this thesis examines the medical/scientific discourse, and its claims to truth that have the effect of responsibilising and normalising pregnant women, both in terms of the feminine and motherhood itself.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Tolwinski, Kasia
Pagination:vii, 183 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Sociology and Anthropology
Date:2010
Thesis Supervisor(s):Reuter, Shelley Z
ID Code:979244
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:09 Dec 2014 17:55
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:48
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