This article examines the relationship between disordered eating and class identity in Paper Daughter: the memoir of Elaine Mar, a Chinese-American woman who emigrated with her family from the Toishan region of mainland China in 1972 to a working-class neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. In Paper Daughter, Mar explores the relationship between bodily excess, as sociologist Beverly Skeggs describes, and class identity. A close examination of Mars disordered eating shows readers how her ED stems from a class inferiority complex. Gendered as female, and classed as inferior due to her immigrant status and working-class background, classifies Mar as the other. Mar utilizes her ED because she believes it will shed off her excess of Skeggss disgust; that is, her low-class upbringing. In other words, disordered eating is a way for Mar to achieve the American dream: the upper-class American woman. This upper-class woman wears idolized brand-name lines that symbolize the American ideal (e.g. Izod shirts) but more importantly, this woman is afforded the opportunity to ponder and explore the world of American dieting.
Rashedi, Roxanne Naseem
"Disordered Eating, Agency, and Social Class: Elaine Mars Paper Daughter,"
Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies:
Vol. 2, Article 6.
Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/aaldp/vol2/iss1/6