"This illuminating and well-written book offers anthropologists with an interest in embodiment, concepts of the self, and medical anthropology a fascinating 'view from Fiji.'"—American AnthropologistAnne E. Becker examines the cultural context of the embodied self through her ethnography of bodily aesthetics, food exchange, care, and social relationships in Fiji. She contrasts the cultivation of the body/self in Fijian and American society, arguing that the motivation of Americans to work on their bodies' shapes as a personal endeavor is permitted by their notion that the self is individuated and autonomous. On the other hand, because Fijians concern themselves with the cultivation of social relationships largely expressed through nurturing and food exchange, there is a vested interest in cultivating others' bodies rather than one's own.
"In our weight-conscious society, we sometimes forget that the whole world doesn't see the body the way we do. . . . Anne E. Becker, M.D., set out to study the women of Fiji to gain perspective on what might protect people from certain mental illnesses—especially eating disorders. Her 1995 book Body, Self and Society: The View from Fiji described the Fijians' admiration for robust body shapes and their tolerance of obesity."—Self