The gender narrative of the 1960s frequently focuses on the reemergence of feminism, yet a growing diet culture provides an alternate entry point for investigating the era and its gendered foodways. The growth of both movements also provides a new perspective on the consumer landscape and ideals regarding female dieting behaviors. To that end, this article interrogates advertisements for the popular appetite suppressant Ayds, the first to use before-and-after photography and a first-person narrative to detail a woman's weight-loss journey. Using Erving Goffman's frame analysis theory to examine gender while applying a feminist-inspired lens to the text, a female identity emerges. Called the Modern American Dieter, she was a woman trapped between a traditional past and the promise of a new, feminist-inspired future. Both worlds were shaped by the era's marketers, who created a modern dieting narrative (using commodity scientism and female empowerment) that still exists today to sell weight loss.
Dieting in the Long Sixties: Constructing the Identity of the Modern American Dieter
Nancy Gagliardi is an independent scholar whose work examines food in relation to gender, bodies and consumer culture in the U.S. She currently lectures at The Culinary Institute of America and has a PhD in Food Studies from New York University. Prior to her academic career, she worked in consumer publishing as Editorial Director for Weight Watchers Publishing Group and at various media outlets.
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Nancy Gagliardi; Dieting in the Long Sixties: Constructing the Identity of the Modern American Dieter. Gastronomica 1 August 2018; 18 (3): 66–81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2018.18.3.66
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