The ideology of intensive mothering sets a high bar and is framed against the specter of the “bad” mother. Poor mothers and mothers of color are especially at risk of being labeled bad mothers. Drawing on 138 in‐depth interviews and ethnographic observations, this study analyzes the discursive and interpersonal strategies poor mothers use to make sense of and defend their feeding and children's body sizes. Food beliefs and practices reflect and reinforce social inequalities and thus represent an exemplary case in which to examine intensive mothering, its ties to growing inequality, and how individuals are called to account for it. Findings demonstrate intersecting inequalities, meanings, and contradictions in mothers' accounts of meeting intensive mothering expectations around feeding, health, and weight. In light of moral framings around feeding and weight, mothers' experiences of surveillance, and the double binds they encounter in feeding children, mothers practice what the authors term defensive mothering.
Journal of Marriage and Family – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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