From Publishers Weekly
Self-confessed "workout junkie" Goldman has written a lively but exhausting book about women's body image and the cult of the locker room. A recovered anorexic, Goldman has an M.A. in public health and writes for the American Medical Association, but you'd hardly know it from the tone of this glib, giggly and also judgmental book. Goldman interviewed members of her high-end Chicago gym, many women of different ages and racial backgrounds, and those close to her age (she's 30-ish) and size mostly sound crass and thin-obsessed. Thankfully, a few older women contribute greater insight. As concerned as Goldman is by female self-loathing and obsession with perfect bodies, she appears to dwell obsessively on other women's bodies in a not particularly kind or sensitive way, launching at one point into a diatribe about the vulgar, unsanitary public rituals she sees women performing in the locker room. Yet she seems equally uncomfortable with the quiet women who dash in and out clad in towels, deeming them "Thoroughly Modest Millies" and regales us with descriptions of her lacy thong underwear. Who can win in this game? Maybe Goldman should have interviewed women who aren't exercise junkies. (June)
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When Goldman, then a public-health master's candidate focusing on women's health, learned of the "No Nudity" policy in the locker rooms of Women's Workout World, she concluded that women's self-esteem had dropped very low indeed, and she began close observation, as "a peeping Tomassinna," of women's locker-room culture. When naked, we are physically and emotionally vulnerable, she posits, and insecurities surface. As a recovered anorexic, Goldman was intimate with her inner critic, and that enabled her to appreciate such rites as mounting the dreaded scale, so equated with self-worth; quasi-covert comparisons of breasts; and $50 bikini waxes and other beauty rituals. Citing numerous women, she concludes that a very great number hate their bodies and therefore themselves, and this attitude is found in ever-younger girls. Having seen that age brings with it greater body confidence and comfort and the shedding of self-consciousness, Goldman, who underwent deep transformation while preparing this eminently suitable addition to women's studies, says it is "time to throw in the towel on hating our bodies." Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved