In the book “The Body Project”, Joan Jacobs Brumberg examines how the social changes of the last century have affected the ways in which teenage girls regard their bodies and themselves. By the use of various historical documents, including the many diaries of adolescent women, the author looks at the developing attitudes towards such issues as physical occurrences like that of menarche which we know as “menstruation” and skin conditions such as acne. Brumberg also focuses on the shift in emphasis from “good works” to “good looks”, and the changing relationships between teenagers and parental importance. The author allows us as a modern day society to come and understand how these historical influences operate providing us with a structure of understanding the harmful attitudes that girls absorb in adolescence which result in an internalized sense of self doubt or insignificance which often leads into the corruption of personal advancement of female adolescence into adult life. .
To understand the meaning of the title “Body Project”, one must come to know and recognize the social concerns that females have undergone in American history. Since the beginning of the colonization of America, females, although considered secondary to males, have had to ensure that they know and understand what it means to be an individual looked upon as being graceful and in lieu of remaining beautiful. The author made clear that the title was chosen to show how girls came to define themselves progressively through their bodies, thus becoming the primary project of the female society.
Brumberg argues that there is a mismatch between biology and culture in the lives of contemporary adolescent girls. She states that “Although girls now mature sexuality earlier than ever before, contemporary American society provides fewer social protections for them, a situation that leaves them unsupported in their development and extremely vulnerable to the excesses of popular culture and to pressure from peer groups.