Is fat bad? Of course not! But to say its role within dietary advice is controversial would be a huge understatement. Why is this? We’ve looked at the morality of dietary advice in several ways already, and one aspect that has persisted is the idea that some people can be “too fat” (and we even have quantified thresholds, which can be highly biased as we’ve read about), representing some kind of moral deficiency. This week examines how the idea of fat and fat bodies became something to avoid during the early 20th century and how the legacy of vitamins and micronutrients came to define “proper” nourishment. Check out the PREview video
Note that you’re doing a new kind of assignment for the M and W readings featuring (exclusively!) bullet points. Bullet points do not mean cryptic half-sentences. They should be complete, well-formed ideas, even a couple of sentences. There is no pressure or expectation to be SHORT with bullet points. Instead, they should be coherent, sophisticated, and demonstrate your mastery of the reading.
You’ll only do EITHER main points or connections depending on what group you’re in. I’ve done just three each; you’ll have five.
Vitamin advertising—along with the way physicians’ endorsements appeared on them—played a significant role in developing the popular conceptions of the need for vitamins and the fear of not getting enough.
Ads directed toward women invoked the ideals of scientific motherhood that played on hopes and fears about raising healthy children. Images of sickly children made the idea of NOT taking vitamins an unnecessary risk.
To understand how people became so fascinated with vitamins, we have to understand the popularization of scientific knowledge generally through consumer culture.
The ads give us a new look at visual culture of health, but they also relate some of the same ideas about moral diets that we’ve been reading about, particularly the idea that you are doing something “wrong” by not following the latest diet advice.
The fact that many ads targeted mothers shows how the field of domestic science (that we first explored in Biltekoff in the context of the New England Kitchen) was continuing to shape society and women’s roles in the US.
One key difference emerging via the ads and attention to vitamins is dietary health becoming defined by specific things like vitamins that you’re putting into your body rather than a general emphasis on balance or fluidity as we saw in Galen and Cheyne.
For this exercise, bullet points are 1-2 complete sentences that clearly express a complete idea, not cryptic phrases that no one but you can understand.
We’re taking a much-needed break from the weekly reflections (and next week, too, as planned). This week we’re going to have a READING QUIZ as a way of summing up a few big-picture questions about the TWO readings for this week and the corresponding discussion posts. The quiz questions will be closely tied to the summary and connection bullet points from the discussion board as well as my comments on them. To prepare for the quiz, do the readings (obviously), and skim through the discussion board posts for the week as well—the quiz will seem much more familiar (and easier) that way.