Our Hungry Selves: Women, Eating and Identity

Our Hungry Selves: Women, Eating and Identity

by Kim Chernin

Famed feminist and psychotherapist, Kim Chernin, discusses her work with women, body image and eating disorders over the past 40 years. Not surprisingly, eating disorders are at an all time high in our culture. She discusses what has changed and what seemingly never will.
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The Tyranny of Slenderness

In the early eighties I wrote several books about eating disorders; one of them became a national best seller. In the first book: The Obsession, Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness, I researched the way our culture's fear of women was directed against women's bodies and, in particular, against a large woman's body. I felt that the cultural preference for very slender women revealed a wish to see women reduce themselves as women and relinquish their power.
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Kim CherninKim Chernin, PhD has won acclaim for her numerous works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness, In My Mother’s House: A Memoir (Nominated for the Chronicle Critics Award and Chosen as Alice Walker’s Favorite Book of the Year in the 1983 New York Times), The Flame Bearers (NEA Grant winner and 1986 New York Times Notable Book), The Woman Who Gave Birth to Her Mother, and the national best seller The Hungry Self: Women, Eating and Identity.

She has appeared on Phil Donahue, Good Morning America, the Charlie Rose Show and The Today Show, has been featured on dozens of radio stations across the U.S., including NPR, KQED Forum and Larry King Radio, and her articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Focus Magazine and Tikkun, and her work has been featured in New York Times Book Review, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle,Washington Post, LA Times, Newsday and more. She is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts in Fiction and her work is being collected by the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe.

Kim works as a psychotherapist and writing consultant and lives in Northern California with her partner, Renate Stendhal. She can be reached at: chernin.kim@gmail.com & kimchernin.com
an excellent article with case illustration
Randi Ettner
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CE credits: 1
Learning objectives:

  • Describe the arc of Chernin's feminist perspective around women's bodies, eating and identity over the course of her career.
  • Define the clinical drawbacks of holding an "anti-diet" stance with clients.
  • Understand the relationship between cultural expectations for women's bodies and the high prevalence of eating disorders among Western women.
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