The Terror of Obesity

1584 WordsJul 15, 20187 Pages
Human body has always been a profound symbol. In modernist writing, body, as it was, is a gendered theme. Female body has long been viewed in subtle connection with primitivism and sensuality. In patriarchy, corpulent female body is defined as and related to fertility symbol as traditional female role in the society is linked with reproduction. In this regard, corpulence becomes a part of femininity as well as a part of what Simone de Beauvoir calls “the eternal feminine” that is primitive and sensuous under male gaze; this in turn legitimizes woman’s immobility and shackle in domestic role under patriarchy. Female body is actually used against female by forcing women’s subjectivity into norms of body shape determined by men in a horrible…show more content…
The restraint from hunger, however, distinguishes human from animals that cannot control their instinct. Fighting hunger takes “all a man’s inborn strength” and masculinity is gained and regained in this process. Such restraint from hunger manifests manly perseverance and total control of one’s primitive desire for food as part of masculinity, while femininity, then, would be defined by the opposite of restraint, by lack of self-control, and by indulgence. As Heywood suggests, “since the indulgence in food leads to fatness, fatness would be part of femininity, what makes the pilgrims less man than the cannibals”(). Hunger for food is one of the body’s appetites born with human beings and the consequence of it is exactly manifested visually in body shape. Thus, in Marlow’s cosmos, fatness becomes an inherent part of femininity akin to inefficiency as well as primitivism. Marlow, or Conrad in his imperialist gaze, is not alone in this regard. As female and femininity are always interwoven concepts, the body is an ancient but consistent sign system imposed upon female and their bodies. The first and foremost example of human suffering from indulgence in literature could be found in the Bible. Eve initiates eating the forbidden food against God’s will, which becomes “the original sin” as a metaphor referring to any indulgence or pleasure that is considered illegal or immoral. Woman is related to lack of restraint and punished with childbirth and
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