Kim Chernin, Who Wrote About Women, Weight and Identity, Dies at 80

“There is a poetic fact on the coronary heart of ‘The Obsession,’” wrote Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in his New York Times evaluation of the guide in 1981. “Eloquently written, passionate in its rhetoric and persistently absorbing, it turns an apparently trivial topic inside out to disclose unacknowledged attitudes and prejudices. We Americans in all probability do fear far an excessive amount of about fats and its look. Perhaps Miss Chernin is correct when she argues that the issue shouldn’t be the vanity of our perceptions, however somewhat, the depth of our emotions.”

Elaine Kusnitz, often known as Kim, was born on May 7, 1940, within the Bronx. Her father, Paul Kusnitz, was a structural engineer educated on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; her mom, Rose (Chernin) Kusnitz, who glided by her maiden title, had graduated early from highschool and labored in a manufacturing unit to assist her mother and father and sisters.

Both Kim’s mother and father had been Russian-born and dedicated Marxists, and earlier than Kim’s start returned for a time to Russia, the place Mr. Kusnitz labored on plans for the Moscow subway.

When Kim was 4, her older sister and caregiver, Nina, died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Rose moved the household to Los Angeles and commenced working as an organizer there, championing farm employees and in addition housing rights for her Black and Latino neighbors.

Kim grew up attending Communist Party rallies, at first in her stroller. From a younger age, she learn Marx, Lenin and accounts of the trial of the Scottsboro Boys, the 9 Black youngsters falsely accused of rape in Alabama. Kim fought bitterly together with her mom, whom she additionally revered.

At the Yiddish faculty sponsored by a left-wing Jewish group she briefly attended, Kim quacked like a duck when spoken to in that language. Yet when her mom was imprisoned for 5 months when she was 11, she was disconsolate. And when she wrote her 1983 memoir, “In My Mother’s House,” weaving her personal story together with her mom’s biography, she captured her mom’s distinctive, Yiddish-inflected voice, “You need to fly? Grow wings. You don’t like the way in which issues are? Tell a narrative.”

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