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Izzy Rhodes

MA work

Designing the Modern Dieter: Technology, Lifestyle and the Female Body in America, 1976-1996

Dissertation Abstract

The intention of this study is to broaden conversations of femininity, technology and the body through the inclusion of historic objects and technological design. Designed as a material culture study on late twentieth century dieting, or ‘modern’ dieting, the project explores the position of the dieting body in late capitalist America. Specifically looking at non-food objects, the text puts a spotlight on designs that became ubiquitous in late twentieth century America but were also designed as negligible to the lifestyle of those seeking to lose weight. Fitness videos fitted into the home through already present home entertainment systems; appetite suppressants were inexpensive and visually inoffensive to users; fitness machines allowed the user to work out in the privacy of the home; and weighing scales became largely embedded and ignored features of domestic bathrooms. This history exposes and fills the gaps ignored in feminist and design histories. Through themes of consumption, production, leisure, and rationalisation, the project opens up a new realm of women’s history through the material culture of dieting.


  • MA Degree


    School of Arts & Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2018

  • I am trained as a Researcher and Design Historian and have a specific interest in medical, gender and industrial histories. I am also a curator and project manager and am progressing into the field of medical museum curation and exhibition management.
  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) American and English Literature, University of East Anglia, 2016
  • Exhibitions

  • A Toolkit for Provocative Practice, Hockney Gallery, London, 2017
  • Awards

  • Research Scholarship, Bard Graduate Centre History of Design Scholarship, 2017
  • Conferences

  • 'The Body Factory: Mechanical Dieting Technologies and the American Home, 1975-1995', Excess? Images of Body, Health, Morality and Emotions across the Media, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 2018
  • Publications

  • Hair: A Design Material, The Design Museum, 2017; Vol I., MA History of Design and MA Visual Communication, Royal College of Art, 2018