Faculty Profiles

Skin Deep

It’s one thing to have played with Barbie dolls when you were a little girl. It’s another thing to want to be Barbie—the mid-century, disproportionate picture of perfection. Assistant Professor Terri Russ takes a look at this notion—the dissatisfaction young women have with their bodies—in her recent book, Bitchin’ Bodies.

The genesis of the book was Russ’s PhD dissertation titled, “I Just Really Think I’m Too Fat”: Female Friend’s Stories of Body Dissatisfaction, Subjugation, and Resistance. It took on the form of a book after women told her they wanted to learn more about the topic. “They wanted a book like this,” says Russ. “In some sense, because so many women had not only taken the time to talk with me, but had been so forthcoming, I felt like I owed them this book.

Russ teaches in the Department of Communication Studies, Dance, and Theatre. She says she sees teaching as not just a profession, “but a way of life, such that everything I do helps form and inform my teaching.” As an example, Russ speaks of the various workshops on beauty issues she holds on campus, saying that they “have the most impact on my teaching; they allow me the opportunity to spend time with students outside the classroom, and to learn more about what issues are important to them.

For current and future students considering communication studies, Russ says that it’s a great field supporting many careers and graduate programs. “Employers regularly highlight the ability to effectively and efficiently communicate in written and spoken forms as one of the key necessities for today’s workers,” says Russ.