SOC344 2018 Tut6 – Batemans Bay

Have you ever wanted to change how you look? Perhaps you’ve admired the way someone else looks – or the way certain types of people in general can look – and it’s something you want to try, or experiment with? Not just in terms of how you dress, but how you might alter your body? For example, a lot of people exercise and work out to make their bodies look and feel healthier, and some argue that tattoos and piercings help people express difficult individual feelings in a uniquely public way. Some people undertake cosmetic surgery in order look different – younger, slimmer, tighter, bigger, or just to adjust certain features of face or body – so they can feel ‘more like the person they were always meant to be’. For them, body modification is an expression of individuality and authenticity.

However, an important question is just how unique are these looks and feelings to us as individuals? Do we work out, tattoo, pierce, or undergo surgery to look more like our real, genuine selves? Or to look more like how we think others want us to look – and will admire us for looking – which often makes us look like everyone else?

Admiration is not the only emotional motive for changing our bodies. Many of us worry about the way our bodies look. Sometimes we feel pressure and anxiety to fit in and look ‘good enough’, and sometimes we might even be driven to copy or look better than someone else through a sense of low status or envy. Gordon Clanton argues that if you find yourself “thinking the other does not deserve the good fortune or wishing that the other would lose his or her advantage or otherwise suffer, that is a measure of your envy”. Have you ever thought that someone you know has it too easy because they are just lucky enough to be good-looking? If you told someone else about your feeling of envy, what would be the most likely response – would they agree, would they tell you off for being ‘too envious,’ or would they encourage to ‘embrace your envy,’ and work harder to look better? Cas Wouters argues that as a society we are becoming increasingly competitive over status, and the management of emotions is a key part of this. Do we modify our bodies to manage our envy?

These ideas raise important sociological questions. Is envy a useful driver towards seeking the higher status that comes with ‘looking better’? Do modified bodies bring us the joy of authenticity, or the thrill of elevated social status (and the relief of reduced envy?) Is there a body-industry out there helping us to conflate authenticity and status? How much is society, the media, and the body-industry telling us – and selling us on – how to look? And how to treat others based on how they look?

#S344UOW18 #Tut6 #Bbay

Posted in SOC327 - Emotions Bodies and Society, UOW.

5 Comments on SOC344 2018 Tut6 – Batemans Bay

Ali minogue said : Guest Report 8 months ago

Mostly, I am happy with my body but, I am still not immune from the occasional admiring glance at the way someone else looks. In particular, motherhood has had the most impact and has changed the way I see my body now. For this blog I just wanted to address this one question and that is: ‘How much is society, the media, and the body-industry telling us – and selling us on – how to look?’ and the issue of envy for women after pregnancy. After pregnancy the social expectation for mothers to regain their pre-pregnancy size and shape within weeks of giving birth is a massive social issue. A women’s pregnant body used to be considered private but this has changed so much that now a pregnant body is the subject for the public to scrutinize and uphold what is the ideal body type. I believe the focus is usually on weight loss after giving birth, and parenting styles. This push to conform these social norms is reinforced through the surveillance and critique of media representations. Media images of women who have just given birth provide new and expectant mothers graphic representations of this ideal body type. At times this is something that I have compared myself too as well which has left me feeling envious and I’m sure I am not alone in that feeling. For me it’s usually the absence of stretch marks in these images that brought out this emotion of envy which did make me feel different as I am covered in them. Being a mother is one of the most beautiful things in the world but these images on social media, magazines, television, news headlines tend to focus on celebrity mothers who have reclaimed their pre-pregnancy bodies and returned to their "normal body and have no imperfections. As Clanton states: “emotions are shaped by society” And he argues that emotions cannot be fully understood without some attention to the social forces that influence them. Take the example of motherhood, social media and television programs that expresses to mothers how you ‘should’ look. This social force shapes the narrative and is quick to focus on messages of diet, weight, and physical appearance. The function of social media can be seen as regulating and praising those who achieve the desired social norms and shame and those who are unable to get back their bodies to social standards. This is an unrealistic expectation that is placed on mothers, inscribing ideas about what they should strive to be like. This in turn influences certain emotions among new and expectant mothers that reinforces feelings such as envy, shame, guilt for not returning to pre-baby weight. #S344UOW18 #Tut6 #BBay

Ali Minogue said : Guest Report 8 months ago

Mostly, I am happy with my body and thankful for all the things I have been able to do and continue to do. But I am still not immune from the occasional admiring glance at the way someone else looks. In particular, motherhood has had the most impact and has changed the way I see my body now. For this blog I just wanted to address this one question and that is the question: ‘How much is society, the media, and the body-industry telling us – and selling us on – how to look?’ and the issue of envy for women after pregnancy. After pregnancy I found that the emphasis on woman is usually when will she get her body back to its pre-pregnancy size and shape. A women’s pregnant body used to be considered private but this has changed socially as these days a pregnant body is now the subject for the public to monitor and analyse. The focus is typically on the mothers' pregnancies, weight loss after giving birth, and parenting styles. Images of celebrity new moms snapping back to perfect shape in almost no time at all, have at times left me feeling envious. It’s usually the absence of stretch marks in the celebrity images that have brought out the emotion of envy and did make me feel different. Being a mother is one of the most beautiful things in the world but the images on social media, magazines, television, news headlines tend to focus on celebrity mothers who have reclaimed their pre-pregnancy bodies and returned to their "normal body. This is an unrealistic expectation that is placed on all mothers. As Clanton states: “emotions are shapes by society” And he argues that emotions cannot be fully understood without some attention to the social forces that influence them. Take the example of motherhood and social media or television programs this tells mothers how you ‘should’ look. This social force shapes the narrative and is quick to focus on messages of diet, weight, and physical appearance. This in turn influences certain emotions among new mothers and reinforces expectations for women where they might feel shamed into returning to pre-baby weight.

Rebecca Reisima said : Guest Report 8 months ago

Photoshop and the age of technology have come a long way in perpetuating the idea of perfection. People chase the socially constructed idea of what perfection is, whether that be by working out more, getting a nose piercing, or going to such extremes as to get plastic surgery. Media, and some celebrities, are fighting for a more inclusive type of perfection, but for the most part it is them we try to imitate. People are becoming unhappy with what they have, we admire celebrities’ bodies so we follow their work out routines and their diets. Our own appreciation of our appearance is fuelled by other people; these people are sitting behind a screen with their own insecurities and their own envies, and their judgement comes with a click of a button. This constant flow of perceived versions of perfection on social media platforms feeds our envy, the higher the likes climb, and the more likes someone has, the more ‘perfect’ they become. #S344UOW18 #Tut6 #BBay

Michelle Claude said : Guest Report 8 months ago

Today’s reality makeover shows have created a society of cultural dissatisfaction. For the interest of entertainment, this new way of inflicting unrealistic normalization has brought a greater abundance of complex emotions with negative impacts. This is inflicted for not only body beautification, but also how your home is meant to be, what foods you are meant to eat and how you are supposed to behave in a romantic situation. Television shows such as the Biggest Looser, The Block, MKR, and the Bachelor, endorse this movement. This means that everything from a person's identity to how they live in their own home is scrutinized and used to make new social norms in a competitive way and inflicted on society today. This new social norm, brings a culture of dissatisfaction not only for those trying to achieve the ideal but also for those few who have achieved the ideal. Even if someone is at the pinnacle of what is considered to be the ideal (the winner in the shows), they are a person that is created for the benefit of others and not for the persons own self-interest. I.e. the ideal person is either viewed as something of in terms of envy, lust, love, desire, and many more, however these emotions are the emotions of other people, and do not determine the emotional self of the person that they relate to. Therefore, society today, is a place of dissatisfied people working out how to live together amongst emotions that are not to their benefit. #S344UOW18 #Tut6 #Bbay

Katrina Manning said : Guest Report 8 months ago

Over the course of centuries, societies have continuously been fed narratives on what is classified as beautiful. From voluptuous women, to the era of the supermodel , images are pushed onto society that supposedly portray a norm of beauty with the aim of encouraging people to aspire to this standard, while simultaneously placing it just out of reach for most. In recent years however, there has been criticism of this narrative. Rather than feeding into the modern capitalist consumer culture that informs individuals they need to enlist the help of a plethora of industries including fashion, beauty, fitness and even cosmetic surgery to conform to the norms of beauty, there are currently counter movements taking place that reject the idea that people are not good enough the way they are born. One such movement, called Body Image Movement , aims to encourage people to ignore the images and discourse that tell them they need bigger boobs, fuller lips, smaller thighs or a six packs, but rather wonderfully embrace what they were born with. Movements such as these aim to challenge the deep-seated beauty norms of society that dictate what is deemed attractive, and rather accept the “imperfections” that make each of us unique. #S344UOW18 #Tut6 #Bbay

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