The invention of cellulite

In the course of researching the issues of physical appearance, I fell on this article by Rossella Ghigi ” The female body between science and guilt “, Travail, genre et sociétés, 2/2004 (N° 12), p. 55-75. In here is a brief overview

Rossella Ghigi, a historian, traces the history of the “invention” of cellulite : far from reducing it to a concrete reality, as a result of scientific knowledge, the cellulite has a history and the political, economic and social. Presented as the culmination of the life in large cities, linked to the sedentary lifestyle, and even women’s work, cellulite symbolizes the lightness of women who ‘ are left to go “.

If today cellulite haunts the covers of women’s magazines and the windows of pharmacies as early as the spring, before it is produced as a “concern group” and pathology of women, the cellulite was not recognized. This female flesh adult scope into an object of disgrace, was born in France in the 1920s. The first definition of the term “cellulite” is found in a French dictionary of 1873, more precisely in the 12th edition of the Dictionary of medicine headed by Littré and Robin. Cellulite is defined as an inflammation of cellular tissue, or layered (laminar).

Rossella Ghigi reconstructs the historical process and social at the end of which the cellulite is thought of as a “poisoning” of the female body. The aura of cellulite finds its full development in the twenties and thirties in France, at a time when obesity becomes ” a real passion of the public.” During this period the thresholds are socially defined tolerance of obesity are falling : in the center of the “moalisation” of obesity, women. Reviews women’s, including Marie-Claire and Your Beauty to fully participate in this movement.

In the journal, Your beauty, cellulite makes its first appearance in February 1933, in an article by Dr. Debec. Defined as “the problem” to which the gymnastics has no cure, it is described as a “pile” of water, residue, toxins, fat, which are a mixture against which it is quite ill-equipped “. Cellulite clearly falls within the obesity. This article is the founder for Rossella Ghigi : in fact, the two main features of cellulite are already present : cellulite is defined as “feminine” and requires ” special care “. Via e-mail of the readers, the cellulite really is its entry in the magazine.

In Marie-Claire, the cellulite is mentioned for the first time in the tenth issue of the magazine, in an article entitled ” keep an eye on your hip “. It is defined as a “fatty infiltration in the tissues nobles : the devious cellulite is more detrimental to health [that are overweight], at the same time more difficult to suppress once it has let go” (Marie Claire, may 7, 1937, p. 16). During the Second World War, the cellulite acquires extraordinary visibility in these two magazines.

This social construction of the cellulisme is parallel to the advent of “a” moralism ” food, according to the expression of Claude Fischler (The Homnivore, Odile Jacob, 1990). In the new collective imaginary, which causes the emergence of cellulite as the pathology of women, cellulite is a synonym of let-go staff, while conversely, the slimming body represents self-control. If the article of Rossela Ghigiis extremely rich, I think that the analysis would be more extensive, taking up to Howard Becker, the notion of entrepreneurs of morality. The deviance, shows Howard Becker in “Outsiders” is always the result of initiatives of others, that is to say, that no act of deviance does not exist without a standard.

Same here without the action of the doctors and the magazines that informed the public their theory, the cellulite would not have been recognized as a problem. The magazines, the doctors are acting in this case as true entrepreneurs of morality, that is to say, they designate a problem as pathological. The same process plays in obesity, as shown by Jean-Pierre Poulain in Sociology of obesity (2009, Puf).

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