Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/212982
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dc.titleTHE SICKNESS OF SHAME: WOMEN AND EATING DISORDERS IN MELISSA BRODER'S MILK FED
dc.contributor.authorTARA EBRAHIM MAMA
dc.date.accessioned2022-01-04T08:00:39Z
dc.date.available2022-01-04T08:00:39Z
dc.date.issued2021-11-08
dc.identifier.citationTARA EBRAHIM MAMA (2021-11-08). THE SICKNESS OF SHAME: WOMEN AND EATING DISORDERS IN MELISSA BRODER'S MILK FED. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
dc.identifier.urihttps://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/212982
dc.description.abstractThis thesis will begin by discussing the classification of shame as a negative affect, as put forth by Silvan Tomkins, before addressing dominant cultural messaging that capitalises on shame as a means of glorifying thinness and subsequently characterising women’s relationships to their bodies. Consequently, I argue that shame is a self-sustaining affect transmitted between women who align themselves in pursuit of thinness, but becomes reified as the cause of an eating disorder as that shame grows increasingly idiosyncratic and destructive. This argument will be constructed with reference to Melissa Broder’s 2021 novel, Milk Fed, which explores the ruinous effects of body shame on its main character, Rachel. Having absorbed the lesson of body shame from her mother in her childhood, Rachel sustains an eating disorder for a majority of her life. However, this familiar routine of self-punishment is disrupted as she becomes infatuated with Miriam, a woman who is fat and shameless, effectively embodying everything Rachel is not and yet secretly harbours the desire to be. As their relationship blossoms over bountiful meals that they share, Rachel’s regiment of starvation and her attachment to body shame begin to disintegrate. Ultimately, her relationship and infatuation with Miriam prompt an internal reversal, as she is able to locate the roots of body shame implanted in childhood and thus recognise her disordered behaviour as a punishment, and not a necessity. Utilising Eve Sedgwick’s concept of paranoid reading to first unravel the intricacies of the anxious mindset cultivated by disordered eating, I posit the assertion that Rachel eventually arrives at the reparative position through a compassionate acknowledgement of her embedded childhood body shame. In doing so, she is able to prompt a reconciliation with her body and selfhood, whilst simultaneously recognising the non-linear nature of recovery from an eating disorder and chronic body shame.
dc.typeThesis
dc.contributor.departmentENGLISH LANGUAGE & LITERATURE
dc.contributor.supervisorIRVING GOH
dc.description.degreeBachelor's
dc.description.degreeconferredBachelor of Arts (Honours)
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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