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81 class and feminine excess:

the strange case of Anna



Nicole Smith

Jeffrey A Brown

abstract
Cultural concerns about race, class and beauty often intersect with mass-mediated
depictions of the female body. Drawing on Foucault’s theories about disciplining the
public body, this article examines the changing public perception of Anna Nicole Smith
from an ideal beauty to a white trash stereotype. This analysis argues that Smith’s
very public weight gains, her outrageous behaviour and her legal battle for her late
husband’s fortune is presented in the media as an example of inappropriate conduct
for a white beauty ideal and thus is repositioned as white trash culture. Central to
this repositioning is the constant tabloid depiction of Smith as an ‘out of control’
grotesque. This article argues that contrary to the optimistic understanding of female
grotesques as effective agents of cultural criticism and social change, Smith
represents the female grotesque as an agent of cultural control that instructs middle-
class women on how to avoid committing classed, racial and gendered transgressions.
The article concludes that the case of Anna Nicole Smith functions as a cautionary
tale that reinforces cultural standards of normalization.

keywords
Anna Nicole Smith; female grotesque; class and gender; white trash; beauty; body
and cultural capital

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(74–94)
c 2005 Feminist Review. 0141-7789/05 $30 www.feminist-review.com
introduction
Throughout the 1990s, Anna Nicole Smith occupied an especially beguiling position
as a second tier celebrity in popular culture. Her outlandish and excessive public
life is, in some senses, a particularly American form of celebrity in that she
embodies some of the most embarrassing stereotypes of the dumb Southern belle,
the white trash gold-digger and the contemporary US fascination with even the
lowliest forms of fame. To the rest of the world Anna Nicole Smith may be just a
passing confirmation of the ubiquitous nature of American culture (if they are
familiar with her at all), but in the USA she is a guilty pleasure, a tabloid spectacle
that makes the rules and boundaries of culturally acceptability clear. The former
stripper and fried-chicken waitress from Southern Texas first achieved public
notoriety as Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1993 and through her subsequent
modelling work on the extremely high-profile Guess Jeans advertising campaign. In
the years that followed, Smith remained a popular subject of media scrutiny and
ridicule as her supermodel status spiraled downward into embarrassingly bad film
roles, dramatic weight gains and a bizarre marriage to an elderly oil tycoon more
than 60 years her senior. But nothing seems to have caught the public’s attention
more than Smith’s recent legal battles over the estimated 450 million dollar estate
of her now late husband, J. Howard Marshall II. The likelihood that Smith’s
inheritance, after only 14 months of marriage, will make her one of the wealthiest
women in the USA seems to offend and bewilder many. After all, here is the woman
chosen as the cover model in 1994 for New York magazine’s feature on ‘White Trash
Nation’, now poised to become a financial powerhouse simply because of her
cartoonish sexuality. This trial, and the public’s interest in it, are not just about
whether the bulk of an eccentric millionaire’s estate should be awarded to an
estranged son or a gold-digging wife. This trial is about the strict rules of the
American class system, and about how those rules are intricately and intimately
written onto the female body. The strange case of Anna Nicole Smith demonstrates
the tension between the belief that in the USA class is more a matter of financial
worth than the exercise of power, and the reality of social pressures and
expectations that function to naturalize class standings, and thus limit class
mobility.

The USA’s continuing desire to see itself as a classless society based on free
enterprise and equal economic opportunities for all is becoming increasingly
untenable. Populist notions of class in the USA tend to displace inequality onto
easily identifiable social constructions such as ethnicity and gender (Ortner,
1991). Class is, at least in the dominant racist logic of contemporary belief
systems, a matter of race rather than just a matter of power. In her discussion of
shifting working-class iconography in the media, Bettie (1995: 125) accurately
describes the uniquely American understanding of class relations, by noting that
‘class has not been replaced by other categories of difference, such as race and
gender, but is expressed through them’. In other words, skin colour and gender

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behaviour have become signs of class rank in that they are indicative of an
individual’s ability or inability to conform to dominant white standards of conduct.
In this regard, Smith’s image as an icon of both ‘white trash’ and as a female
sexual ideal is indicative of the twin axis of social control used to naturalize class
differences. What I am concerned with in this essay is the way in which Smith is
seen to embody the undesirable, and thus undeserving, characteristics of lower
class culture.

In analysing whiteness as a socially constructed category, several recent works


have stressed the importance of considering the values inherent in the unmarked
and privileged category of whiteness (see e.g. Dyer, 1997; Hill, 1997; Wray and
Newitz, 1997). White is commonly used as the cultural standard against which all
other social groups and individuals are measured and found wanting. That
whiteness is taken to be synonymous with privilege and social power is evidenced
by the very existence of white trash as a social category. As Newitz and Wray
(1997: 169) argue, the ‘term ‘‘white trash’’ points up the hatred and fear
undergirding the American myth of classlessness.’ No other ethnicity is doubly
marked as trash because it would be redundant within the American class system.
Only socially and economically disadvantaged whites need be double marked as
trash in order to distance them from the dominate standard of whiteness. White
trash is a necessary social category within the logic of the American class system
in order to maintain the sense of middle- and upper-class white culture as
inherently superior. The function of the label white trash as a cultural category is
two-fold: ‘it is a way of naming actually existing white people who occupy the
economic and social margins of American life, and it is a set of myths and
stereotypes that justify their continued marginalization’ (Newitz and Wray, 1997:
172). For the most part this system of class distinction is completely naturalized
and essentially invisible in the USA. The circular logic is that certain people behave
in inappropriate ways because they are socially and economically marginalized,
and they are marginalized because of the way they behave. It is when a public
figure like Anna Nicole Smith threatens the naturalness of this relationship that it
becomes most visible. Moreover, the case of Anna Nicole Smith illustrates that the
desperate and vehement attempts to punish transgressive individuals is
symptomatic of deeper cultural politics.

As a discursive category, white trash is a symbolic cluster of traits that represent


specific moral, cultural, political, economic and physical transgressions. Whether
called white trash, crackers, hillbillies, or rednecks the stereotypical features are
easily identifiable: Southern, rural, poor, loud, stupid, violent, criminal, crass,
uneducated, glutinous and excessively sexual. Smith’s often repeated rags-to-
riches biography casts her as archetypically white trash. As Playboy, the magazine
that launched her public career, summarizes:

after dropping out of school Smith moved to Houston from her home town of Mexia
(population 6,933), situated some 40 miles east of Waco, where she had worked as a

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breakfast cook at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken. At 17 years, she married her high-school
sweetheart, a co-worker at the restaurant. By the age of 19 years, she was a single mother,
yearning for a new start as a fashion model and trying to make ends meet by working as an
exotic dancer.
(Playboy, February 2001: 122)

Ostensibly the Playboy article, and countless other magazine stories about Smith,
intends to emphasize the hurdles she has overcome in her life. But more directly
this type of biographical sketch characterizes her as quintessentially white trash.
Smith is repeatedly portrayed as an uneducated, Southern, small-town, unwed
mother whose only marketable skill is taking off her clothes. Whether or not this
portrait is accurate is immaterial. What matters is that Smith is publicly marked as
a symbol of all things undesirable or threatening to dominant norms. For most of
her career, Smith has served as a comic parable, as a lower class ‘other’ that the
general public can scoff at. This is the trap in which Smith is ensnared. Because
she has been so publicly marked as white trash, the possibility that she will
become one of the wealthiest women in the USA poses an ideological threat to
middle- and upper-class whiteness.

the ideal body


It should come as no surprise that this trial about class and worthiness revolves
around a woman famous for her body. Indeed, it is in the public’s and the media’s
fascination with Anna Nicole Smith’s body (how it has been put on sexual display,
how it has been manipulated, how it has changed) that the unspoken rules of the
American class system have been mobilized. Following primarily from the theories
put forth by Michel Foucault (1975) in Discipline and Punish, gender studies has
increasingly recognized the body is a primary cite of social control. In Foucault’s
sense, culture exercises control over individuals through disciplinary practices that
have historically shifted from external controls to self-regulation. Although
cultural power may seem like something that certain individuals or groups possess
it is more importantly, according to Foucault, a complex network of non-
centralized forces that regulate even the most intimate of personal behaviours and
beliefs. Social norms may be imposed by the individuals and institutional systems
in power, but they are even more importantly enforced, or reinforced, by the public
at large. As Foucault (1977: 155) summarizes there ‘is no need for arms, physical
violence, material constraints. Just a gaze. An inspecting gaze, a gaze which each
individual under its weight will end by interiorising to the point that he is his own
overseer, each individual thus exercising this surveillance over, and against
himself.’ Attempts to discipline the body by inscribing standards of beauty,
perfection, social and sexual ‘normalcy’, are simultaneously attempts to normalize
the subject’s class standing. By putting not just Smith’s marriage on trial, but also
her lifestyle and her body (both literally, and figuratively through the court of
media scrutiny) the physical expectations of class can be publicly reinscribed.

Jeffrey A Brown feminist review 81 2005 77


That the long running battle waged by Anna Nicole Smith over her deceased
husband’s money exists simultaneously within both the courts and the tabloids
demonstrates what Foucault identifies as the dual techniques used to organize and
discipline the social body. In his historical analysis of the penal system, Foucault
characterizes ‘spectacle’ as the dominant form of control during the 16th and 17th
centuries. In spectacle the tortured, dismembered, amputated or branded body of
a criminal was put on public display to serve as a tangible warning for others. For
the 18th century and beyond, Foucault describes ‘surveillance’, particularly
panopticism, as the preferred method of discipline whereby the corporal reality of
the punishment is transposed onto the ever-visible sign of the punishment. In other
words, the criminal body is symbolically marked as deviant by the clothing or
placards it is forced to wear, and/or it is made subject to a relentless visibility.
The exercise of power through surveillance is exemplified by Bentham’s panopticon
prison model. As Foucault suggests, the model of the panopticon is best
understood less as a concrete architectural style and more as a metaphor for both
official and unofficial social control. In this way, a public life can be a prison of its
own making, or, as Foucault (1975: 214) describes it: ‘a faceless gaze that
transforms the whole social body into a field of perception: thousands of eyes
posted everywhere.’ Although Foucault’s historical focus demarcates the practices
of spectacle and surveillance as variations on how power and discipline are
organized by vision, contemporary social and legal strictures make use of both
these visual tropes. As Robyn Weigman (1995) argues in her fascinating analysis of
race in modern America:

‘the shift from the socially inscribed mark of visibility attending spectacle to the self-
incorporated vision of the panopticon relation coalesced in the United States, not in
successive stages but as intertwined technologies that worked simultaneously to stage the
hierarchical relations of race.’
(Weigman, 1995: 39)

The spectacle and the surveillance of bodies in contemporary American culture


functions to make visible what are deemed the normative unequal hierarchies of
race, class and gender. Thus, just as Anna Nicole Smith’s legal rights are presented
as a public spectacle of inappropriate sexual relations, her class status is
questioned through the constant tabloid surveillance of her body. It would seem
that in our image-based society, the real question of Smith’s right to inherit her
husband’s millions is not just a legal issue but a question of cultural acceptability.
The legality of wills and court testimonials aside, the question posed to the public
by the media’s ‘thousands of eyes posted everywhere’ is does Smith look like she
deserves to be one of the richest women in the country?

There are specific rules and traditions for reading the body as a bearer of cultural
meaning. The very strictly defined beauty ideal for women is perhaps the most
familiar and visible example of a tyrannical normalizing practice. Women are

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expected to constantly strive to reproduce an abstract notion of beauty. The ideal
female body is not just a matter of aesthetics, it is a matter of class. This
standard of beauty and perfection is defined by Mary Russo (1995: 8) as a
classical body which is ‘transcendent and monumental, closed, static, self-
contained, symmetrical and sleek; it is identified with the ‘high’ or official culture
of the Renaissance and later, with the rationalism, individualism, and normalizing
aspirations of the bourgeoisie’. In its normalization, the classical body demonstrates
that the individual has learned to properly self-regulate oneself, surveillance as a
form of regulating power has been internalized. The physical traits of the classical
body are metaphors for social traits and desirable behaviour. In short, this self-
contained, symmetrical and sleek body is not just a physical ideal but also a class
ideal. This is also the type of socially acceptable body, which Anna Nicole Smith first
became famous for. In an interesting (and in hindsight, ironic) example of this
collusion between physical female beauty and class standing, Smith’s first
assignment for Playboy was as the cover model for the 1992 feature ‘Post-Debs in
Playboy: A Pictorial to Startle the Rich and Famous’. Although Smith did not have the
social pedigree to be featured in the pictorial alongside real former debutantes, she
did have the right look to represent a particularly sexy version of the classical or
bourgeois female body. With the addition of a few simple symbols of wealth – formal
gown, gloves, pearls, a Victorian chair and opera glasses – Smith is transformed into
a sign of upper-class perfection.

Based on the popularity of Smith’s first cover Playboy featured her just two months
later as their Playmate of the month. Before the month was out Smith was
contracted by Guess jeans to succeed supermodel Claudia Schiffer in a series of
provocative advertisements for their clothing and jewellery lines. The wildly
successful Guess campaign featured Smith primarily in seductive poses or
scenarios reminiscent of classical era Hollywood glamour photography. It came as
no surprise when Playboy named Smith its Playmate of the Year for 1993. The
combination of Guess and Playboy helped Anna Nicole Smith become the pre-
eminent sex symbol of the early 1990s. The similar visual style of the Playboy
layouts and the Guess advertisements also clearly constructed Smith as a
bourgeois sexual ideal, as the living embodiment of the classical body: sleek,
symmetrical and self-contained. The photography used for both emphasizes
glamour and romanticism. Smith is clearly a fantasy figure on offer as an image of
perfection. The heavy, stylized make-up and hair, the jewellery, the flirtatious
poses, even the use of black and white photography all work to cast Smith as the
cultural ideal of white, upper-class womanliness. Striking in both these images is
the luminosity of Smith’s platinum blonde hair. In addition to this type of
blondness signifying sexuality, Smith’s hair in these images subtly reinforces the
natural superiority believed to be embodied by the bourgeoisie white woman. As
Dyer (1997: 122) demonstrates in his discussion of historical and contemporary
depictions of ideal femininity: ‘Idealised white women are bathed in and

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permeated by light. It streams through them and falls on to them from above. In
short, they glow.’ This glow associated with white women carries with it the
implication of a divine light, of angelic perfection. The persistent image of the
glowing white woman as an ideal is, Dyer (1977: 127) argues, ‘both the symbol of
white virtuousness and the last word in the claim that what made whites special as
a race was their non-physical, spiritual, indeed ethereal qualities.’ The
representation of Smith in both the Guess advertisements and her early Playboy
appearances uses idealization to reinforce the idea that the classical body is
removed from the corporeal.

limits of the ideal body


Despite the enormous success of Anna Nicole Smith’s ability to masquerade as the
classic, bourgeois body, by the mid-1990s there was already a hint of another body
lurking just below the surface, a body threatening to transcend the boundaries of
slender self-containment, of becoming more corporeal than ethereal. Standing at
5 feet 11 inches and weighing 155 pounds when she first gained worldwide
attention, Smith veered away from the petite ideals of womanliness. Moreover,
with the undeniably rounded proportions of 39-27-39, Smith carried curvaceous-
ness to an almost cartoonish extreme (even for Playboy). Specifically, her
unnaturally large breasts became the objects not just of male fascination but
public speculation. Her top-heavy physique became her mark of distinction in an
industry of beautiful faces and perfect bodies. They were also Smith’s most
marketable assets. As she told People magazine in her typically outrageous style:
‘Everything I have is because of them’ (People, 21 August 1996: 22). The
fetishization of Smith as an extremely ‘bosomy beauty’ located her near the far
limits of the ideal body. Yet, at the height of her pin-up popularity Smith was
often compared to the waifish girls who dominated the modelling world in the mid-
1990s and described as a novel alternative of ideal beauty... so long as she stayed
within acceptable normative boundaries. Initially, Smith’s size was touted as a
positive sexual alternative to an increasingly anorexic beauty standard. As a
feature article in People declared: ‘No slender runway reed, buxom model Anna
Nicole Smith offers jaded males some jeans therapy’ (Schindehette and Hutchings,
1993: 57). That every mention of Smith in the media felt compelled to qualify her
sexuality as ‘voluptuous’, ‘curvaceous’ or ‘buxom’ (and sometimes all three) only
indicates that her status as an ideal was slightly off-center from the very start.
Where the waifs lingered perilously close to the ‘too skinny’ border of the physical
ideal, Smith ventured threateningly close to the ‘too fat’ border. If the waifs posed
the threat of not enough body, Smith threatened to be too much body.

For a brief period following her stint as Guess jeans supermodel and Playboy
Playmate of the Year, Anna Nicole Smith enjoyed enormous success and seemed to
be everywhere at once. She posed for other high-profile print and billboard
advertising campaigns, was a feature runway model in both New York and Paris,

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and appeared as the cover girl for countless popular magazines. But Smith’s ability
to maintain an extremely full-figure version of the ideal body was short lived.
Observers were quick to note Smith’s weight gains whenever she appeared at
celebrity functions (which was often). By the time she appeared at the 1994
Academy Awards Smith’s increasing corpulence was impossible to ignore. With her
trademark platinum blonde hair and bright red lipstick Smith looked every bit the
Hollywood sex symbol, except that at close to 200 pounds her skintight satin
dressed looked like it would burst at the seams. Her now pendulous breasts, the
bulge of her stomach and the girth of her hips were clearly visible for all to see.
With a smile and a wink Smith tried to maintain the illusion of ideal sexuality but
the press mercilessly criticized her as fat. The powerful mechanisms of normali-
zation immediately came into play as the media declared the heavier Smith a
blimp, a pig, a cow, an embarrassment, even an obscenity. She immediately
became the subject of late night talk show jokes and a popular object of ridicule
for the tabloids. The same media that had so recently held Smith up as a healthy
ideal of female beauty and sexuality now portrayed her as a ridiculous obscenity.
In an instant Smith had crossed the cultural borders from ideal to grotesque.

the transgressive body


Based on Bahktin’s theory of the carnivalesque, the idea of the female grotesque
as a politically and ideologically powerful figure of subversion has become an
important concept in feminist and gender studies. The opposite of the classical
body in both appearance and ideology, the ‘grotesque body is open’, writes Mary
Russo (1995: 8), ‘protruding, irregular, secreting, multiple, and changing; it is
identified with non-official ‘‘low’’ culture or the carnivalesque, and with social
transformation.’ In other words, where the classical body is the dominant
normative model representing middle- and upper-class beliefs and values, the
grotesque body is emblematic of all things socially unacceptable and hence lower
class. As Rowe (1995) compares these two cultural body types:

‘The ‘grotesque body’ exaggerates its processes, bulges, and orifices, whereas the static,
monumental ‘‘classical (or bourgeois) body’’ conceals them. The grotesque body breaks
down the boundaries between itself and the world outside it, while the classical body,
consistent with the ideology of the bourgeois individual, shores them up.’
(Rowe, 1995: 33)

Because women in our society are subjected to the overwhelming ‘tyranny of


slenderness’ and are perceived as the primary bearers of class standing and/or
class aspirations (Ortner, 1991: 172), any woman who openly flaunts her excessive
corpulence is a potential political threat. That the modern female grotesque, those
women who either fail or refuse to conform to the dominant physical ideal, can
become an agent of ‘social transformation’, as Russo (1995) put it, is a powerful
cultural tool for feminists. As a liminal character standing outside the borders of

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proper cultural behaviour, the female grotesque can examine, criticize, parody and
ideally force people to question the supposed naturalness of social expectations,
both physical and behavioural.

The image of an increasingly heavier Anna Nicole Smith clearly positioned her as a
highly visible female grotesque. The skimpy clothes that once had accentuated
Smith’s ideal body now emphasized the fleshiness of her arms and legs. That Smith
had been a celebrated model of the classical body only made her weight gain all
the more offensive to people. Perhaps what most shocked people and threatened
tabloid critics was that Smith did not seem sufficiently embarrassed by the change
in her body shape. Her modelling and acting opportunities almost completely
evaporated but Smith still paraded around at public events in tight, revealing
dresses and posed flirtatiously for the paparazzi. Although she was now regarded
as a ridiculous parody of her former sexpot self, Smith refused to stop enjoying her
fame. Because Smith continued to flaunt her figure in public and effectively
spoofed her own image and the notion of what it is to be a sexy starlet, she might
easily be seen to enact the potential for social transformation that Russo (1995)
suggests is the political agency of the female grotesque. But, as I hope will
become clear, in the case of Anna Nicole Smith her function as a ‘monument to
vulgarity’ dominates any liberating possibilities. As is most often the case, a
celebrity female grotesque is regarded as nothing more than a grotesque female.

The subsequent media and public outrage with Smith for not hiding away her now
grotesque body reflects the cultural belief that, as Susan Bordo (1993: 193)
demonstrates, bodies function as ‘a symbol for the emotional, moral, or spiritual
state of the individual.’ All too often it is assumed that a person’s body reflects
their intrinsic worth. The right body signifies the appropriate attitude. ‘The firm,
developed body’, Bordo (1993: 195) continues, ‘means that one cares about how
one appears to others, suggesting willpower, energy, control over infantile impulse,
the ability to ‘‘shape your life’’.’ The wrong body, the fat and corpulent body,
signifies the opposite: it is a personal and public failure to approximate all the
associated traits that society idealizes. Women who allow themselves to become
fat are openly derided for ‘letting themselves go.’ They are judged as lazy,
indulgent, out of control, sloppy, and ultimately unfeminine. The prejudices and
ridicule of large women is all the more vehement when she gains weight under the
glare of public scrutiny. For women like Smith who gain weight publicly (such as
Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor, Sarah Ferguson and Kirstie Alley), their celebrity
marks their bodies as public property and lightning rods for scorn. As cultural
ideals, any female celebrity that breaks from conformity is interpreted as a threat
to social standards and is openly and actively censured.

In Smith’s case the fervour with which the media ridiculed her weight gain was
likely compounded by her previous image as the classical ideal. Here was a woman
who could embody the beauty ideal at a level that most women only dream about
and she was choosing not to. And worse, she was still putting herself on sexual

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display as if she didn’t care. The perception of this type of attitude as rebellious is
interpreted by Bordo (1993) as the root of society’s antagonistic relationship with
fat women. She writes:

The obese, ‘particularly those who claim to be happy although overweight, are perceived as
not playing by the rules at all. If the rest of us are struggling to be acceptable and
‘‘normal’’, we cannot allow them to get away with it, they must be put in their place, be
humiliated and defeated.’
(Bordo, 1993: 203)

Such visible transgressions as Smith committed are an affront to the masses and
can not go unpunished. The full public force of normalization was quickly brought
to bear on Anna Nicole Smith and her grotesque body. Typical of the intense media
criticism was the coverage of Smith’s appearance at 1995 Academy Awards. A year
after first being exposed as fat, Smith again shocked people by appearing not just
drunk and disoriented but practically obese in a tight blue velvet dress. In a
bizarre public spectacle, Smith staggered around posing seductively for
cameramen while the crowd shouted insults at her. At one point Smith reportedly
had to be hurried along by security when she stopped to scream ‘I’m not fat! I’m
not fat!’ at the spectators. As the caption for The National Enquirer’s photograph
of Smith on the red carpet taunted:

Holy cow! Anna Nicole busts out. Play-buoyant pinup Anna Nicole Smith shows Oscar-goers
how she’s ballooned to an udderly ridiculous 224 pounds. Later, the bovine-size beauty and
date Peter Kamka headed to an eatery to put on the feed bag.

Everywhere the coverage was the same. Smith had not merely ceased to embody
the beauty ideal typified in the pages of Playboy; she had become a gluttonous
cow, a ridiculously out-of-control embarrassment.

no class and out of control


In the constant criticism of Smith’s weight gain, the association of body type with
class standing became increasingly apparent. When she was thin her background
was characterized as sweetly Southern and small town. Her success was the beauty
industry equivalent of a Horatio Alger story whereby she overcame poverty and an
early pregnancy to ascend the heights of the modelling world. After Smith ‘came
out’ as fat, and by implication lazy, careless and self-indulgent, that same
background was used as evidence against her. She was now depicted as a slutty
hick who dropped out of school because she was too stupid to be good at anything
but sex. Her earlier career as a stripper was repeatedly brought up in media
accounts of her life, as was her arrest for drunk and disorderly behaviour years
earlier in Houston. Owing to the pressure of intense media scrutiny and the
collapse of her modelling career Smith increasingly turned to drugs and alcohol.

Jeffrey A Brown feminist review 81 2005 83


Her subsequent erratic behaviour was widely reported as proof of her low moral
standing. In short, Smith was seen to be reverting to her white trash roots. Through
it all, Smith mugged for the photographers and committed perhaps the most
significant class transgression imaginable: she made a spectacle of herself. No
longer an acceptable object of worship, her flamboyance was both proof of her
white trash nature and cause for concern. Constance Penley writes ‘It is
particularly unseemly’

when they [white trash] appear to shamelessly flaunt their trashiness, which, after all, is
nothing but an aggressively in-you-face reminder of stark class differences, a fierce fuck-
you to anyone trying to maintain a belief in an America whose only class demarcations are
the seemingly obvious ones of race.
(Penley, 1997: 90)

Whether intentional or not, the continuing spectacle of a trashy looking Anna


Nicole Smith at celebrity gatherings was an open challenge to American
perceptions of class and acceptability.

Interestingly enough, although Smith first became famous for her nude
photographs in Playboy, it is only after she is identified as a white trash
grotesque that her sexuality is seen as exaggerated. The airbrushed glamour shots
featured in Playboy are a far cry from the stories that emerged about her previous
life as a stripper in one of Houston’s sleazier clubs and the earlier, and raunchier,
nude photographs of Smith that surfaced on the internet and in other pornographic
magazines. The difference between Smith’s sexuality during her Playboy period and
the time both before and after that period can be likened to Kipniss’ reading of the
pornographic body as an emblem of class division. In her analysis of Hustler,
Kipniss (1992) argues that whereas Playboy continues the tradition of portraying
women as classical nudes (closed and contained, with a ‘focus always above the
waist’), the Hustler body ‘is often a gaseous, fluid emitting, embarrassing body,
one continually defying the strictures of bourgeois manners and mores and instead
governed by its lower intestinal tract – a body threatening to erupt at any
moment’ (Kipniss, 1992: 375). In fact, it is because Smith’s body is triply marked
as grotesque (fat, white trash and pornographic), that the metaphorical threat ‘to
erupt at any moment’ became a believable story in 1997 when it was widely (and
erroneously) reported in the press that Anna Nicole Smith’s breast implants had
literally exploded.

modern grotesques
Where Hustler may have a contentious class mission to upset social and sexual
norms, a mission very like that ascribed to female grotesques by much scholarship;
Smith’s white trash derived resemblance to the Hustler body is not a conscious
threat. Her out of control body may be an ideological threat to cultural standards

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but to credit Smith with any sense of disruptive agency would be a mistake. The
repositioning of Smith’s sexual iconography from Playboy ideal to a Hustler-like
abject body is instead only proof of her lack of moral and physical control, and
thus her low standing. Certainly the publicly ostentatious large bodies of some
female celebrities, from Mae West to Rosie O-Donnell, can be rightly identified as
overt and intentional challenges to patriarchal norms. Even the comically
exaggerated body of Dolly Parton, who, like Anna Nicole Smith is best known for
her white trashy sexuality, can be read as intentionally subversive. Pamela Wilson
(1995: 285) describes the Dolly persona as ‘a social parody, a hyperbolic
stereotype, a tongue-in-cheek charade that playfully and affectionately subverts
the patriarchal iconography of female sexuality.’ Most recently, Emmy Award
winning actress Camryn Manheim has openly challenged the narrowly defined
female body type on television and our cultural fear of fat women. Unfortunately,
though, these modern grotesques, these unruly women as Katherine Rowe describes
them, are the exceptions and not the rule. Where an award-winning actress on a
top-rated network drama may feel strong enough to make her political agenda
clear, others may lack the confidence to intentionally resist normative standards.
For example, in comparison to Manheim’s best selling autobiography, defiantly
entitled Wake Up, I’m Fat! (2000), Smith’s screaming protestations of ‘I’m not fat!
I’m not fat!’ at the Academy Awards seems especially desperate. The social
pressures of normalization typically overwhelm most women’s ability to challenge
deep-seated cultural beliefs. On the surface, Anna Nicole Smith’s femininely
excessive body and her brash public behaviour is similar to the destabilizing
project of the grotesque. But the qualification of these attributes as part of her
white trash nature neutralizes any threat to patriarchal norms. Moreover, Smith’s
apparent lack of intent or agency actually functions to confirm both her lower
class standing and her position as a failed cultural ideal. In other words, not all
female grotesques are created equal.

The importance of intent and agency as necessary components for modern female
grotesques to fulfill a liberating rather than limiting cultural role is demonstrated
by that other woman out-of-control from the 1990s: Roseanne Arnold. On the
surface there are a number of similarities between Roseanne and Anna Nicole
Smith. Both women are predominately identified as characters of carnivalesque
excess; both are common fodder for spectacular tabloid features; both have dealt
publicly with addictions and erratic behaviour, and perhaps most importantly; both
have struggled with fatness and their white trash roots. But, whereas Smith
initially gained her fame as a classical beauty, Roseanne became popular as an
aggressive and insulting comedienne. First in her stand-up act and then in her
sitcom, Roseanne expressed an unrelenting proletarian feminism that openly
critiqued both patriarchal and middle-class social norms. Throughout the 1990s,
Roseanne used her popularity to present a political viewpoint that challenged
hegemonic order. Not surprisingly, both Roseanne Arnold, the person, and

Jeffrey A Brown feminist review 81 2005 85


Roseanne, the television show, became frequently cited examples of the liberating
threat embodied by the female grotesque. For example, of Roseanne, the person,
Rowe (1995: 76–77) observes: ‘Arnold in effect shows women, and all who
experience social injustice, that they need not contain their pain and internalize
their anger but instead can direct them outward toward their sources.’ Similarly,
Bettie (1995: 132) comments that in the television programme ‘Roseanne is rude,
insubordinate, and rarely a passive victim, on either class or gender grounds. The
show routinely provides a fantasy response to working-class women’s attempts to
sustain self-esteem in a world where they have little control.’ Where other large
women on television have been reduced to objects of ridicule or pity, Roseanne
defied the status quo week after week by voicing her resistance to such
classifications and pointing out how absurd the normative standards of society
are. Although Roseanne eventually underwent plastic surgery and other regimes of
beautification (Roseanne the actress, but the effects were also necessarily evident
on the character as well), she never capitulated to the critics of her appearance or
participated in the ridicule of large female bodies. In fact, she consistently reveled
in her corpulence and stressed her voracious appetites as intrinsic to her sense of
self-worth, her political agenda, and her power.

Unfortunately, Roseanne is an atypical case. She has a rare combination of will


power, intelligence, wit, tenacity and resiliency that facilitates the transgres-
siveness of her perceived grotesqueness. Roseanne has the strength of character to
turn the tables on the critics and use her fatness and her trashiness defiantly.
These seemingly undesirable qualities provide her with the raw material needed to
critique bourgeois culture. Once established in the entertainment industry,
Roseanne also demonstrated the type of celebrity independence that comes from
producing and starring in a top-rated sitcom, which helped her resist the pressures
of normalization. Her personal and professional strength allowed her to literally
laugh at the constant condemnations. This rare power also allowed Roseanne to
deal with the male-dominated entertainment industry on her own terms.
Recounting one of her most famous struggles for autonomy, Roseanne described
her battle with Matt Williams, the original producer of her show, who tried to have
her dismissed because of her trashy and unfeminine behaviour: ‘He compiled a list
of every offensive thing I did. And I do offensive things... That’s who I am. That’s
my act. So Matt was in his office making a list of how gross I was, how many times
I farted and belched – taking it to the networks to show I was out of control’
(quoted in Jerome, 1989: 85–86). Rowe (1995: 64) astutely notes of this scene that
‘Of course she was out of control – his control.’ This quality of being out of the
control of others, particularly males, but in control of oneself is key to the
difference between the female grotesque as an ideological threat or as tool for
normalization. Despite the numerous excesses, Roseanne is in control of herself
and her message. Anna Nicole Smith, on the other hand, is also out-of-control but
is presented in the media as unable to control herself. Where Roseanne, Dolly

86 feminist review 81 2005 class and feminine excess


Parton and Camryn Manheim are extremely skilled at comedy, singing and acting,
Smith has no other marketable skills apart from her appearance. Smith, like most
women ridiculed as grotesque, is unprepared and unmotivated to use her
marginality as a critique of cultural standards.

Anna Nicole Smith’s lack of ideological threat is evident in her ongoing project of
self-discipline. Despite refusing to exhibit an appropriate amount of shame for
having ‘let herself go’, Smith has struggled to recapture her image as a svelte
beauty queen. In the years following her initial exposure as fat and the subsequent
repositioning of her celebrity image from ideal beauty to white trash grotesque,
Smith has succumbed to both public pressure and internalized self-regulation. Like
many women in our society, Smith has battled her weight gains and alternates
between heavy and thin periods. But unlike most women, Smith’s attempts at
bodily self-discipline are met with not just personal affirmation but also with
media endorsement and public approval. During one weight loss phase The
National Enquirer trumpeted ‘Holy cow! Just look at her now... Anna Nicole Drops
50lbs!’ Articles like these manage to celebrate attempts at self-discipline while
further ridiculing the celebrity for having stumbled in the first place. At best
features like this are a backhanded compliment, at worst they are a reminder that
once an ideal has fallen they can never truly erase their failures. Moreover, like
almost all the tabloid articles documenting Smith’s attempts at bodily discipline
this one included ‘then’ and ‘now’ photographs. This tabloid strategy means that
incorporated with their congratulation of Smith are clear examples for readers of
which feminine body should be scorned and which should be emulated. From ‘Then’
to ‘Wow!’ the images in The National Enquirer contrast Smith’s obese appearance
at the 1996 Academy Awards in the tight blue velvet dress, with her slimmer (but
still busty) figure in jeans and undershirt. Smith’s public grotesqueness is robbed
of any political potential since the lower class and corpulent self is presented as a
negative model. And, more importantly, Smith compounds the negative value of
the out-of-control body by acting as a willing participant in the disciplining of her
own image. Smith’s battle with her weight and her white trash roots is a warning
for all women that they must remain ever-vigilant or they too risk falling from
grace. This type of ‘Before & After’ article about Smith suggests the degree to
which gaining weight or dressing inappropriately is presented as regressive in
contemporary culture. Although Smith’s case has taken on an exaggerated and
specifically ‘spectacular’ dimension, even the most cursory glance through popular
media forms directed at women demonstrates a consistent style of ‘Before & After’
surveillance (‘Make-Overs’, ‘Do’s & Don’ts’ and ‘What Not to Wear, etc.), warning
all women that they should constantly strive to reproduce the ideal body lest they
be labelled deviant.

Anna Nicole Smith’s continuing battle to recapture her status as an ideal beauty
may seem extreme due to her notoriety (and notoriousness), but it is a battle
shared by millions of women. The twin disciplinary strategies of public ridicule and

Jeffrey A Brown feminist review 81 2005 87


internalized normativity effectively alienate many women from even questioning
the aesthetic ideal of femininity. An unruly comedian like Roseanne or Rosie
O’Donnell may be able to utilize her wit, position and power to question class and
gender ideals, but many women who lack these critical skills have become so clearly
vested in the beauty system that perpetuating it seems their only option. Certainly
for a woman like Smith, whose only symbolic capital has been derived from her
looks, her only skill the ability to approximate the classical ideal as a model and
centrefold, the rewards of compliance far exceed the allure of liberation. The
pervasiveness and internalization of this system that values traditional womanly
traits and devalues any variation from the norm is identified by Bartky (1988) as
fundamental to the failure of feminism to gain popular acceptance. For women the
skill of self-discipline is still prized above all others and brings with it both social
acceptance and a personal sense of power. Bartky argues:

Women, then’, ‘like other skilled individuals, have a stake in the perception of their skills,
whatever it may have cost to acquire them and quite apart from the question whether, as a
gender, they would have been better off had they never had to acquire them in the first
place. Hence feminism, especially a genuinely radical feminism that questions the
patriarchal construction of the female body, threatens women with a certain deskilling.
(Bartky, 1998: 145)

This rupture that Bartky identifies between accepting a feminist agenda and the
reluctance to abandon any complicity in the beauty system also makes clear the
intentionality required for a female grotesque to function as a true threat to social
standards. Thus, the self-identified ‘hardcore feminist’ Roseanne is an effective
grotesque ideologically because she chooses to exercise the intellectual and
comedic skills needed to critique patriarchal standards. Whereas Smith, [who,
when asked about feminism in an interview for Entertainment Weekly replied:
‘Whoever started that, I could kick them in the head. I believe in women staying
home and watching the children while the husband’s at work – the traditional way’
(May 28, 1993: 33)] is such a captive of the beauty standard and has been so
effectively characterized as being transgressive only because she is white trash
and hence destined to fail, can only be understood as a grotesque without power.

the body and class on trial


The event that crystallized all of the negative traits associated with Smith was her
surprise wedding to J. Howard Marshall II on 27 June 1994. The unusual union
shocked both the press and the public. People magazine was one of the first to
break the news about the popular model’s nuptials:

The bride wore cleavage. The 89-year-old groom, speaking from his wheelchair, assured the
11 people in attendance that he sure did adore his new 26-year-old wife, for whom he
already had purchased $1 million worth of jewelry. After the champagne-and-chocolate-

88 feminist review 81 2005 class and feminine excess


cake reception, the bride kissed her man and whispered, ‘Bye, darling, I’m off to Greece’.
Thus was Anna Nicole Smith, big-boned Guess jeans model, Playboy Playmate of the Year
(1993) and actress (Naked Gun 33 1/3), joined in holy matrimony with fellow Texan J.
Howard Marshall II, a Houston oilman believed to be worth about $500 million.
(People, 1 August 1994: 73)

Although more reserved in their account of the event than other tabloids, People’s
coverage was typical in that it presented the marriage as an absurd spectacle. By
stressing his wealth and infirmity, her flamboyant sexuality, and above all, the
extreme age difference between them, the marriage was framed as a ludicrously
obvious example of a sexpot taking advantage of a senile, but wealthy, old
pervert. Numerous magazine and newspaper articles described Anna Nicole Smith
as the ultimate gold-digger. Likening Smith to her role model, Marilyn Monroe,
Texas Monthly (August 1999) ran a cover story about the wedding entitled ‘How to
Marry a Millionaire’. Even less tastefully, People magazine recycled the reference a
year later when they covered Marshall’s funeral under the heading ‘How to Bury a
Millionaire’. Even if this was a mutually consenting relationship it flew in the face
of conventional American beliefs that all marriages should be based on true love.
For visual proof of how preposterous the relationship was, the public had to look no
further than the two widely circulated photographs of Smith and Marshall first
smiling for photographers and then very awkwardly kissing at the request of
reporters. The image of Smith tentatively kissing a man old enough to be her great
grandfather was greeted with the same degree of disgust as the pictures of her
excessive weight gains would be just a few months later. Like her body, Smith’s
marriage to Marshall was treated as evidence of her lowly status. After all, what
could be more white trashy than willingly prostituting yourself in marriage to an
89-year-old man?

As the media coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall II marriage
suggests, public reactions ranged from laughter to disgust. Wealthy older men
marry beautiful younger women all the time in our society, yet rarely is the
coupling greeted with as much consternation as this one. The blatantly excessive
nature of the Smith/Marshall union became a matter of public interest because it
exposed several unspoken rules about power, economy and sexual relations in our
society. This was a particularly problematic marriage because it united not just
two people, but two realms of capital. The first, and most obvious, is the realm of
financial capital represented by Marshall’s wealth. The second, and more complex
realm, is the bodily capital accumulated by Smith through her status as a sex
symbol. The first is easiest to understand as a direct representation of Marx’s
notion of economic class. Because American culture is founded on the deep-
seated ideology of capitalism and free enterprise, a system which is supposedly
open to all, the accumulation of wealth stands as the clearest marker of social
rank. Thus, despite the USA’s continuing wish to see itself as a classless society,
financial success is understood as evidence of class differentiation. In modern

Jeffrey A Brown feminist review 81 2005 89


America, the accumulation of wealth is ultimately akin to a type of Darwinian
natural selection: those with the most money are perceived as upper class not just
because they can afford ‘the finer things in life’, but because in achieving (or
being born into) wealth they have proven their natural superiority.

The second type of capital exposed by the Smith/Marshall marriage is the


unofficial value placed on physical appearance. As Pierre Bordieu (1985) has
shown in his work on culture and the unwritten rules of social organization, modern
capital is a multifaceted concept that incorporates less tangible elements such as
knowledge and taste within an economic framework. In other words, people can
accumulate cultural capital in all its various forms just as they can fiscal capital.
In this sense, beauty becomes an important form of currency in our society,
especially for women. Thus, some women may possess beauty as if it were a
commodity they were born with, but all women can build upon or invest in what
Bourdieu refers to as their ‘bodily capital’. By disciplining themselves through diet,
exercise, surgery, hair styling, make-up, clothing and any other number of beauty
practices, women achieve or accumulate bodily capital directly proportionate to
how close they come to embodying the current ideals of beauty. One need only look
at beauty pageants to see how clearly measurable our communal understanding of
physical attractiveness is. It should come as no surprise that modelling and
pornography are the only professions where women are routinely paid better than
men since these industries directly equate the value of a woman’s appearance with
her economic worth as a commodity. As an internationally recognized supermodel
and Playboy Playmate of the Year in the early 1990s, Anna Nicole Smith was
undeniably wealthy in bodily capital. Smith had achieved the bodily capital
equivalency of a multi-millionaire.

Despite the symbolic and structural association between economic capital and
bodily capital, only one form can literally be taken ‘to the bank’. Both forms may
be measurable but only economic capital is understood as a true mark of class
status in American society. The clothing, cars, houses and other luxury items may
outwardly represent an individual’s fiscal worth, but these features are regarded
as merely symbols of an underlying value. Beauty, on the other hand, is all surface.
Bodily capital may symbolize physical and moral worth but it is not supposed to be
directly exchanged. But, as Chancer (1998) points out in her analysis of Marx and
Engel’s economic theories as they relate to feminist challenges of emancipation,
beautiful women are often perceived as mere objects of exchange. Chancer writes:

We can deduce from Engel’s argument ‘that male domination turns women into objects of
exchange. It is not just that women are subordinated for procreative purposes, but they
have also become valued possessions in themselves, a source of asserting power between
men. Moreover, above all, it is their bodies that patriarchal property holders now seek to
dominate, to control, and ultimately to own. Thus women are forced into constituting a
major form of capital: what we might call here sexual capital.
(Chancer, 1998: 261. italics in original).

90 feminist review 81 2005 class and feminine excess


Regardless of whether Smith and Marshall really loved one another or not, on some
level the relationship was an economic one whereby sexual or bodily capital was
exchanged for financial capital. The legal conundrum is that such relationships are
rarely officially recognized, and unofficially they are scorned as illegitimate. The
result is that for the better part of a decade now Anna Nicole Smith has been
locked in a legal battle with her late husband’s eldest son E. Pierce Marshall over
the senior Marshall’s estate. In economic/social terms, the trial is an explicit
attempt to quantify the value of Smith’s sexual capital as a form of currency. In a
very real sense, the institutionalized representatives of patriarchal property owners
are operating to ‘dominate, to control, and ultimately to own’ Smith’s sexualized
body.

That Smith was (and still is) consistently depicted as simple-minded seductress
who used her cartoonish sexuality to swindle an old man of his hard-earned
fortune reflects the American belief that capital, and thus class standing, must be
appropriately earned. Despite the myth of democratic access, the press’
presentation of Smith as unworthy reveals the qualitative difference between
the poles of economic capital and bodily capital upon which this trial was based.
Marshall, a Yale law school graduate, earned his oil tycoon status through a
lifetime of hard work whereas Smith, observers are constantly reminded, has done
nothing of ‘real’ worth to achieve her bodily capital. Even as a celebrity her
achievements are suspect. As P. David Marshall (1997) argues in his analysis of
early 20th century film celebrity, the entertainment industry relies upon a strategy
of emphasizing the hard work and finely honed performance skills of stars to justify
their meteoric economic increases. ‘The concept of merit and ability’, Marshall
concludes, ‘was transposed into the language of character and the personal
history of the star’ (Marshall, 1997: 91). Thus, the public tends to accept the
extreme wealth of celebrities because we understand them to have earned their
monetary rewards by working diligently at their craft. How often in interviews do
movie stars describe the long days they spend on the sets in any variety of
unpleasant conditions as the true and unglamorous reality of their profession? Or,
even more compensatingly, supermodels complaining about how much hard work it
is to stand around being beautiful for the camera while on an early photo shoot on
a tropical beach? Yet while this perception of celebrity merit is an acceptable
rationale for the financial ascendancy of a wide variety of famous individuals, it is
no longer seen as applicable to Smith. She is no longer a real actress, appearing
only in straight-to-video features since her post-Naked Gun slide into
grotesqueness, and no longer even a real model, her early career as a pornography
model and later career as a plus-size model now completely eclipsing her fame as
the face and body of Guess. Smith’s characterization as devoid of any real skills
and her failure to maintain her one true claim to fame, her semblance to the ideal
bourgeois body, bolsters the public opinion that Smith does not deserve to be
rewarded with the bulk of her late husband’s fortune.

Jeffrey A Brown feminist review 81 2005 91


The truly disturbing result for many people is that (at least as of this writing) Anna
Nicole Smith has been awarded roughly $450 million as her legally due inheritance.
Although it may take decades more legal wrangling before she actually receives
any of the money Smith has, for the moment at least, achieved a financial status
that seems to exceed her cultural worth. Smith has become what Roseanne’s
former husband Tom Arnold once joked is ‘America’s worst nightmare: white trash
with money’. As Newitz and Wray (1997) point out the idea that white trash can
have money and still be white trash seems a contradiction. But, Newitz and Wray
argue this condition of ‘trash with money’ can facilitate cross-class identification
whereby a campy or playful subversiveness and critique of dominant cultural
values can be voiced. Yet, as with the disparate ability of a select few large women
to operate as liberating female grotesques, there is a vast difference between
Roseanne’s comedic skewering of middle-class pretensions and the perception of
Smith, the poster girl for white trash, becoming one of the wealthiest women in the
country without achieving it properly. A case such as Anna Nicole Smith’s is
unnerving to middle-class culture because it undermines deeply rooted beliefs
about the rules of class and economic mobility. If a woman like Smith can exceed
her lower income status without transcending her white trash persona and despite
her apparent inability to recapture her ideal physical form, then the American
understanding of class and economy is revealed as fickle and arbitrary. Worse yet,
if ascendancy is arbitrary so must be descendancy. Thus, Smith’s strange case
mobilizes not just cultural fears about female bodies out-of-control and singular
class transgressions but also fears about the precarious nature of class and its
association with financial stability.

postscript
Subsequent to the media circus surrounding the inheritance trial, Anna Nicole
Smith continues to function as a public spectacle of class, gender and bodily
normalization. The court’s decision to award Smith with $450 million and her very
public white trash personality indicated a possible fissure in the American
conception of class as a financial concept easily bracketed off from issues of
gender, taste and bodily ideals. Yet, just as the transgressive political potential of
the female grotesque is rarely able to effect real cultural shifts in perception, the
threat posed by Smith’s ‘white trash with money’ status has been concisely
neutralized by the cultural industries to further naturalize the relationship between
physical and class ideals. During the 2003 and 2004 television seasons, E: The
Entertainment Network, aired its most successful series ever: The Anna Nicole
Smith Show. Ostensibly just another program cashing in on the reality television
trend, The Anna Nicole Smith Show depicted Smith’s day-to-day life, settling in to
an upscale Beverly Hills home, and balancing her minor celebrity with her family
and social life. Despite critical disdain, the program became an instant hit with

92 feminist review 81 2005 class and feminine excess


viewers. What the critics hated, and the fans seemed to enjoy most, was the freak
show nature of the series. The focus of the program was Smith’s apparent failings.
Over the course of the series, viewers witnessed, among other transgressions, her
choice of tacky furniture, her stupidity and incoherence in numerous
conversations, her desperate romps with both male and female strippers, her
belligerent victory in an eating contest, her being tattooed, and her throwing up.
Week in and week out, Smith was not lauded as an eccentric individual who had
achieved financial wealth far beyond her roots, but as a ridiculous example of why
certain people should not have money. Her large body and its excessive appetites
(both carnal and culinary) were clearly presented as objects of scorn and thus
repositioned her deviant stature as a warning parable for the larger public.

Tellingly, the public mocking of Smith and her show only stopped when she emerged
in the off-season as a spokesmodel for the weight loss product Trim-Spa.
Reversing the earlier villainization of Smith that accompanied her dramatic weight
gains, the newly svelte Smith garnered a tidal wave of media congratulations for
capitulating to more appropriate bodily norms. Rather than a grotesque she was
quickly repositioned, yet again, as an ideal on talk shows and in men’s magazine
spreads. Her return to sex symbol status also meant her reality show was
cancelled. Wealthy women apparently are exempt from being mocked if they at
least conform to physical ideals. The ongoing public spectacle of Anna Nicole
Smith may be characterized in the press as a strange case of a celebrity obsessed
culture, but her oscillating status as beauty and as grotesque, as a physical ideal
and as white trash, reveals the persistence and the pervasiveness of normalization
traversed by women.

author biography
Jeffrey A. Brown is an Assistant Professor of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State
University.

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doi:10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400240

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