SOC344 2018 Tut6 – Mon 14.30pm

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 #Mon1430

Posted in SOC327 - Emotions Bodies and Society, Uncategorized, UOW.

7 Comments on SOC344 2018 Tut6 – Mon 14.30pm

Daniel Izatt said : Guest Report 3 months ago

To answer the question of whether I have wanted to change my physical appearance is a mixture of both yes and no, in the regards to yes I think every individual at some point has tried to change their appearance in some way shape or form. For me I changed my appearance a few years ago by growing beard out of curiosity rather than social pressure or envy of others, in regards envy when I had a beard I admired others who had them and maintained them and styled them. Envy can be a driving force but not a major one, social media and media itself can dramatically affect the idea who how one should look, this leads to no part of my answer because I don’t aspire or envy to have a body or physical appearance of an athlete or a movie star which is essentially unachievable for many. From a looking at one’s body it is easy to make judgement about their lifestyle habits or their background when thinking like this perhaps they also making judgement upon us as well? #S344UOW18 #Tut2 #Mon1430

Chelsea Swan said : Guest Report 4 months ago

I believe that individuals undergo cosmetic surgery, get piercings, tattoos, and change their bodies as a way of individual expression and as a way of fitting in to what we think is ‘normal’. Most of us seek admiration for the changes we make to our bodies. Many individuals, I believe, feel happy when people notice the changes they have made. According to Heyes (2007), we give ourselves makeovers as a way of externalizing an inner authenticity. Further, Heyes (2007) states that the growth of cosmetic surgery, beauty products, diets, etc. signify that how we look has become important in how we understand ourselves. To an extent, I agree with this. I agree that body modification increases our individuality. It may also bring us closer to working out who and what we are. However, when does our individualism become a norm in society? Do we end up just looking like everyone else? Do we just end up being like everyone else? In contrast, I believe that wanting what someone else has and being envious can be an unhealthy aspect of body modification. I believe that even after one modifies their body, envy may still be present, for example, envy of someone who is naturally good looking. According to Clanton (1996), envy is a negative feeling toward someone who is better off and is a shameful emotion. When does it get to the point when you become obsessed with wanting more? Are you ever truly happy with your body and appearance? Even after changes? This video emphasises a disease where one is dissatisfied with their body no matter the changes. It highlights an obsession with body modification. Furthermore, I believe that ‘insta models’ and celebrities on social media influence us to look like a certain way. Fit, healthy, always happy. Which again, can lead us to become obsessed with our bodies in an unhealthy way.I believe that individuals undergo cosmetic surgery, get piercings, tattoos, and change their bodies as a way of individual expression and as a way of fitting in to what we think is ‘normal’. Most of us seek admiration for the changes we make to our bodies. Many individuals, I believe, feel happy when people notice the changes they have made. According to Heyes (2007), we give ourselves makeovers as a way of externalizing an inner authenticity. Further, Heyes (2007) states that the growth of cosmetic surgery, beauty products, diets, etc. signify that how we look has become important in how we understand ourselves. To an extent, I agree with this. I agree that body modification increases our individuality. It may also bring us closer to working out who and what we are. However, when does our individualism become a norm in society? Do we end up just looking like everyone else? Do we just end up being like everyone else? In contrast, I believe that wanting what someone else has and being envious can be an unhealthy aspect of body modification. I believe that even after one modifies their body, envy may still be present, for example, envy of someone who is naturally good looking. According to Clanton (1996), envy is a negative feeling toward someone who is better off and is a shameful emotion. When does it get to the point when you become obsessed with wanting more? Are you ever truly happy with your body and appearance? Even after changes? This video emphasises a disease where one is dissatisfied with their body no matter the changes. It highlights an obsession with body modification. Furthermore, I believe that ‘insta models’ and celebrities on social media influence us to look like a certain way. Fit, healthy, always happy. Which again, can lead us to become obsessed with our bodies in an unhealthy way. #S344UOW18 #tut6 #Mon1430

Amy Garrill said : Guest Report 4 months ago

We as a society are modifying our bodies to gain individual happiness. While I believe that some individuals are trying to become a better version of themselves, other body modifications can be seen to result from social comparisons, aspirations and envy. Some individuals may aspire to look or perform similar to one of their idols. In this case body modifications can be seen as positive and socially appropriate (Patulny, 2018). On the other hand, individuals may be envious of their superiors which is seen as socially inappropriate (Patulny, 2018). If a majority of individuals are undergoing body modifications either from a standpoint of aspiration or envy, I believe that the level of uniqueness one holds will eventually dissipate. This idea is supported by Heyes (2007) who states that the ‘televisual cosmetic surgical makeover’ can be seen as a form of normalisation. In an effort to increase social status by modifying our bodies, we are conforming to societal norms and increasing homogeneity. #S344UOW18 #Tut6 #Mon1430

Rebecca said : Guest Report 4 months ago

We live in a digital fishbowl and everyday society is being flooded with images of what we should look like and how we should conform into living our lives. Body modification can be shown through several avenues such as getting a simple tattoo or piercing and on a larger scale undergoing cosmetic surgery to ultimately change the way one looks. On a lesser scale, everyday tasks of putting on makeup can be seen as a way as covering up an individual's insecurities, ultimately putting on a mask to face the world and hiding your true self. Makeup is an art within itself and through the right technique both men and women can alter their eye, lip, skin colour to seem more ‘tan’ and even the overall shape of their face and features to seem more slim and snatched. On a deeper level modifications such as these are altering oneself and revealing a more genuine version of their real self in which they are wanting to share with the world. People who get tattoos, are filling an empty canvas in which we were born with, and placing artwork that represents an individual, both the good and the bad, in one way or another. Surgery has been used throughout time to dramatically alter one's appearance whether it be for the person's individual desires, the need to conform to fit into society and feed to our own insecurities or whether or not an individual was just born into the wrong body and feels the need to rectify the situation. We live in the day and age where everyone is always wanting the latest and greatest new thing and being heavily influenced by their surrounding environments. Individuals become envious of those around us who have been portrayed to have more and who fit the societal standard of what we should look like and how we should be living our lives. We are constantly shown images of what society deems acceptable and how we should present ourselves and are subconsciously fueled to feel less than if we do not meet these societal norms. The authenticity of these modifications can be narrowed down to the simple fact of expressing one's true self in a way that breaks the barrier between what society deems good and bad. For example modifications such as coloured hair and tattoos for individuals were stereotyped for amounting to a loss of job opportunities and unprofessionalism which i feel as though still sticks with a lot of the older generations today. Instead of being a way to expressing yourself in a creative way you were being punished by something that ultimately should change the way others in society sees you. An individual should not be judged on the way they look whether modified or not, because as long as an individual is happy enough in their own true version of their genuine self that should be enough for humanity.

Allie Sims @AllieSoc said : Guest Report 4 months ago

The process of changing our bodies in any way is heavily wrapped up with emotions. These can include both negative and positive emotions. Body modification such as tattoos are one particular modification that can be easily tied to emotions. We attempt to change our bodies to portray how we feel inside according to Heyes (2006). However sometimes this idea of how we should look is socially prescribed. This is why how we look is a sociological question. It has also has many emotions tied to it, such as envy and admiration. Similar to what Lauren said in her response I am also envious of friends who have fast metabolism but am admirable of those who work out to lose the weight. Is this because society has told me that working out is what I should want or is it because I do not have a fast metabolism so working out is a more achievable way for me to lose weight. I do not mind my body weight but I also fear how other people judge me for my weight. So because of this I am attempting to lose weight by eating better and exercising. There are many sociological questions tied into this topic and the process of changing our bodies ties into emotions. #S344UOW18 #Tut6 #Mon1430

Abey Hatzantonis said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Living in a day in age where social media is extremely popular, it can be hard to ignore what social media advertises as “beautiful” as it constantly shows advertisements on how to improve the way one looks or their overall lifestyle, whether through dieting and exercise regimes to cosmetic enhancements such as lip injections and Botox. Simply put, social media can tend to portray the message that looking good on the outside should make us feel good on the inside (Heyes, 2007). This being constantly shown across the numerous social media platforms may cause some individuals to be envious of the way others look, however I do not believe envy is the sole driving force as to why an individual modifies themselves. Some individuals may choose to modify themselves in order to gain a confidence they feel they are lacking, which has the ability to positively affect an individual’s lifestyle. For others it may provide them with a chance to express their individuality, for example getting a tattoo or changing their hair colour to feel express their internal feelings on the outside. In terms of modifying one’s body, depending on the individuals reasoning for their modification influences whether or not it is authentic or to elevate social status. Sometimes an individual may not feel comfortable in their own skin because of a particular feature of their body and it may get to the point where they feel there is no other option than to modify themselves. However in saying this, it is also possible that the reason an individual does not feel comfortable may be due to their exposure to what society deems as “beautiful” and therefore feels they may gain their missing confidence if they comply with what society deems as “beautiful” (Heyes, 2007). The difference between authentically modifying one’s body and doing so to elevate social status is very complex as the two interact with each other to a certain extent, society is a common theme amongst both of these and I would say is one of the main driving reasons as to why an individual may feel the need to modify themselves. #S344UOW18 #Tut6 #Mon1430

Lauren Wightman said : Guest Report 4 months ago

I workout and eat pretty clean so as to control my acne and my weight. But honestly, I’m not sure if I can say that I’m being authentic to my real genuine self in doing these things. I’m not particularly fond of compliments but I do like the idea of being admired and I wish I could say that I do the things I do to make my body look the way it does just for myself and not for others, but I’m not that naïve. I think everyone at one point in their life has been envious of that one friend with the super fast metabolism who eats like a garbage truck but looks like a stick, whilst the rest of us have to suffer at the gym. I also think that the media plays a really big role in telling us how we should look in order to be representative of our true self and how we should treat others because of how they look. We ‘read’ each others bodies and we think we get the whole picture – they’re a good/bad person, their from a certain class, etc. - from just one look, but can we really?

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