Body Modification For Cultural Adaptation? Essay

1226 words - 5 pages

How should I look like to have the ideal body? An increasing number of women ask themselves this question many times in their lives. Deborah Sullivan’s essay, “Social Bodies: Tightening the Bonds of Beauty”, discloses the different cultural traditions that require various methods of body modifications. Women should undergo such modifications to obtain social acceptance. Similarly, “Pressures to Conform” by Celia Milne discusses the effects of media and society on women, and how women view their physical appearance. The media gives women a plethora of choices for the perfect body and even provides ways on how to achieve them. There is no escaping. There is no excuse of not getting the ideal body that ranges from that of a stick-thin ramp model’s to the buff and chiseled outline of a body builder’s. Still, the struggle doesn’t end here. Women also desire smooth, wrinkle-free skin, hairless faces, and ample busts. “Stencil” women are celebrities, models, actresses - women whose coveted looks are seen through discriminating TV screens, posters, and magazines. The steady demand for these forms of media is mainly due to women who are looking for body images to pattern from. These women are on the constant lookout in updating their appearance and considering the bulk of information that the media presents to them, the media is a source of considerable amount of physical and psychological stress. In their fight for their roles in society, women undergo various body modifications to suit the taste of the present-day culture.
I agree with Sullivan’s notion that women’s identities as “desirable women depend on the submission of their physical bodies to the dictates of social norms” (542). At different stages in time in the Western world, women were viewed as homemakers, then as working women, later on as empowered women, who seek gender equality. Women’s physical appearance change with their roles in society. From homemakers with feminine, hourglass figures, women eventually filled positions in offices and went to work. It was in 1941 to 1951 that one of the surges in the clerical work was “accompanied by a clear feminization trend” (A History of Women and Work 10). Later, the number of single mothers increased. Women learned to take on responsibilities that are usually shared with another parent. As Sullivan quoted Hewitt, “the acute awareness of feeling alive induced by pain” replaces their psychological issues with a “euphoric feeling of mastery” (544). Undergoing strenuous activities to stay fit to the extent of getting underweight gives a feeling that could be similar to that attained from painful body modifications like tattooing. In order for single mothers to be able to fulfill their duties at work and at home, they had to build stronger physiques. This also doubles as a confidence boost to remind them that they are capable of doing well in raising their families. This body requirement could eventually become obsessing.
As members of society,...

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