Culture

Weighing Reality: Who's Really the Biggest Loser?

"Obesity," declares Charlotte Cooper, author of 1998's Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size, "is just a word used by people to medicalize fat." Extra weight, once considered a genetic short straw, is increasingly characterized as a crisis threatening the physical, political, and moral health of our... Read more »

Holy Rollers: Is Roller Derby the New Burlesque?

Talk about old school. In skating rinks around the nation, saucy dames are getting together and strapping on old-fashioned quad rol­ler skates to jam, block, and pummel each other. The roller derby revival is on. More than two dozen leagues operate across the country, with an average of 30 to 40... Read more »

Alpha Mom, Omega Journalism

With all the world in strife, one might think the moms of New York would cut each other some slack…. That motherhood, in short, would serve as a safe house where civility and mutual respect rule. Think again. Motherhood, for all its well-documented joys, has become a flash point for envy,... Read more »

Outside Neverland: Female Writers Reinvent Peter Pan

When the curtain rose at the London premiere of the play Peter Pan in 1904, it unveiled a drama of flying children, fairies, and pirates that would soon become a classic—and inspire countless spin-offs, adaptations, and reinterpretations. On the cinematic side, these began with the 1924 silent-film... Read more »

Cornering the Market: Damali Ayo and the Business of Race

When Damali Ayo was 12, her parents sent her to day camp with 20 white kids. The kids were fascinated by the way Ayo’s hair maintained its texture in the pool. Even after she deliberately dunked her head in the water, they were convinced that black hair doesn’t get wet. This... Read more »

Muddy Daughters

The year my oldest daughter turned 4, her little sister was born, and that spring, in desperation, I let her play more or less unsupervised in the neighbors’ yard. When I came up for air from the endless diaper changes and nursing sessions, I’d catch a glimpse of her through the family-room... Read more »

Board of Education

Each semester in my American popular culture class, my students and I spend a night playing board games. I start them off with games for small children, like memory cards or Strawberry Shortcake adventure games. They play self-consciously, giggling at the losers who can’t master a game for... Read more »

Sims Like the Real Thing

The Sims is a game that consists of little more than creating characters and pushing them through the day, making sure they eat, sleep, stay clean, make friends, advance in a career, and buy stuff. The bodily functions are tedious and the rest is everything I hate about life in a capitalist society... Read more »

The Accidental Jock

I’m not an athlete. I’ve always disliked team sports, with their conformist, vaguely fascist associations. While as a child I longed to be a tree-climbing tomboy, I had to admit a preference for tea parties, dress-up, and long afternoons at the library. Then one summer night, three... Read more »

Ode to Joystick

How can you not love Ms. Pac-Man, a woman for whom power pellets, peaches, and pretzels constitute a steady diet? This is how I feel about her now, but my love for the little yellow gal with the red bow began when I wore bows myself—when I was around 11. Each summer, my mom would drag me to... Read more »

Pages

She-Hulk, Attorney at Law: She's Mean, She's Green, and She Believes in Due Process

Avenger. Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Member of the Fantastic Four. Read more »

Saying Goodbye to Maria and the End of a Sesame Street Era

Growing up, Sesame Street's Maria was one of the best Latina role models I had. Read more »

Why You Should Pay for Porn

If you’re a progressive middle-class individual, chances are you think about where your food comes from. Maybe you try to buy shoes that are... Read more »

Hot Under the Bonnet: The Cooptation of Amish Culture in Mass-Market Fiction

Dubbed “Amish romance novels,” “Amish fiction,” or the more waggish “bonnet rippers,” these novels just one entry point into the varying images of Amish communities in U.S. popular culture. Read more »