What Is Eating Latin American Women Writers: Food, Weight, and Eating Disorders

by Renée S. Scott


Since colonial times, Latin American women writers have appropriated food as a strategy to express central issues of power, expression, and culture that affect their gender. Food is still an important topic in their production. Moreover, as weight and eating disorders have become more prominent in public discourse, we see a considerable expansion of the trope of food. Women authors turn their attention to the conflictive relationship between food, weight, and body image for women. They denounce the current misguided notions of feminine beauty, according to which only the young, skinny body is attractive. Moreover, they assert that these views are just another tool by which patriarchy exerts control over women now that they have finally succeeded in becoming active participants in all social spaces.

There is presently an immense scholarly interest in Latin American female literary production, specifically on the subject of the body. Latin American publications on weight and eating disorders abound, especially in the fields of psychology and sociology. However, there are only a few articles addressing these themes in the fictional work of Latin American women authors. What Is Eating Latin American Women Writers fills a theoretical void because it speaks to an ever-growing interest in Latin American literature about women, food, and the body. This study not only traces for the first time the historical development of the topics of food, eating consumption, and body image but also features well-known authors and others who are yet to be discovered in United States.

The book contributes to the ongoing critical dialogue about women and food by offering an analysis of food, weight, and eating disorders in Latin American and Latina literary production. It demonstrates that since the 1990s, authors have been expanding the subject of food by exploring its connection to the social and cultural pressures associated with the postmodern obsession with the thin body. The texts in What Is Eating Latin American Women Writers are examined with an interdisciplinary critical approach that considers cultural, sociological, psychoanalytic, and feminist theories. It takes into consideration the specificity of Latin American cultures and it combines Latin American theories with those brought forth by North American and European critics in an effort to account more accurately for the idiosyncratic manifestations presently occurring in Latin American writings.

Another valuable contribution of this book is its focus on writers from a spectrum of countries––Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and the United States. Furthermore, these writers express themselves in a range of genres that include epistle, essay, novel, poetry, short story, and film. Some of the texts have received critical attention while others are yet to be translated into English or even recognized outside the countries where they were published. Another essential aspect of the book is its deliberate reflection on food and the body by means of texts from the seventeenth-century to the twenty-first-century.

This book will be welcome addition to all levels in Latin American studies, especially Latin American women literature, since the work will be valuable to scholars and accessible to students. Scholars interested in gender studies, women’s studies, feminist theories, and critical literary analysis will also find this to be an important resource.


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