Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Postmodern Body

Let me first state that my research and my comments are based on body image and the concept of makeover in a 'western' context. Growing up in the UK and now living in Australia, my experience outside of this sphere is limited and I speak only for myself.

Last week I started carrying out my research interviews. I hope that talking to other women about their bodies and their thoughts about the makeover concept will help to mitigate to some extent the one-sidedness of my thinking and my writing, but my target group is in itself narrow and therefore my pool of information is still somewhat restricted. Once I have carried out my initial batch of interviews I hope that I will be able to reach a little further afield to help balance out my research.

So far the women I have spoken to have gone some way to confirming in my mind that the contemporary body, and in particular the contemporary body ideal is a rather disjointed and unstable thing. Further interviews may help to develop an analysis of 'the' contemporary feminine ideal, but so far, each woman has described a different ideal to me.

It is the question on femininity which helps to develop this issue most clearly. Each woman has a different idea of what makes a woman feminine, but although all the women I have spoken to far say they like to be, or would like to be more feminine, and on occasions make an effort to appear more feminine, none considered themselves to be feminine in their everyday life.

This postmodern feminine ideal, if it can be called such, appears to have become so fragmented and unstable, that women find it difficult to define and even more difficult to conform to on a day to day basis.

The instability of the postmodern body seems to be driving increasingly diverse body ideals and attitudes to body image today in the west. Clearly at this point a major area is missing, that of the male point of view, but that will be an area to develop later.

Questions Raised

Why are body ideals diversifying? - is it that women have more varied role models, that society is increasinly multicultural?

Today, when (in the west) we have access to the technology to conform, as well as the information we need, so why don't we?

What is the future for film and media, which have been driven for many years by a feminine ideal, if the feminine ideal no longer exists?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Desire to Change

Based on my own failure to bring about significant changes in my body , I'm wondering what it is that drives people to follow through and really make changes.

I'd like to be thinner, more glamorous, better groomed, but why don't I have the motivation to do so when others do?

Is it a personality thing? I've always been confident in myself, generally my self-esteem is good. Maybe it is those with lower self-esteem who actually, ironically, are more likely to succeed in making a change, because the overall benefit is greater (i.e. increased self-esteem), whereas if you quite like yourself already, then after the change you only like yourself a little bit more, rather than a lot more. And that's the bottom line, generally, I like myself, I think I'm a 'nice' person, I'm not amazing looking but I'm not ugly, I'm not thin, but I have never, even at my heaviest, considered myself to be 'fat'. In fact I don't apply these types of labels to myself at all really.

I feel that self-image is clearly at the centre of all of this.

Questions raised...
  • How many people manage to maintain the changes they make to lifestyle and body in the long-term?
  • Is surgery popular because it is a longer-term option than say dieting, or getting a new wardrobe? Not just because it's seen as an 'easy' option.

To do this week

  • Carry out and transcribe at least 2 interviews
  • Write about interviews
  • Finish Reading Flesh Wounds (Virginia Blum)

Erm... a bit off track - quick update

Well, I didn't do so well there did I.

The update is that I lost 8kg before Christmas, put 4 back on, and lost two again, so I'm 6kg down overall.

I haven't had sweets or chocolate bars since October, but I have been making up for it with cakes and biscuits - oops, that's never going to work! Oh and a hot chocolate most days.

Other than that, I really need a hair cut, and I'm getting behind on my uni work generally due to lack of motivation at the moment.

I'm going to try and post each Wednesday now as that is my 'uni' day, so no more excuses.