The Psychology of Body Positivity

190a4c30-4af7-0133-0aa6-0e76e5725d9dI am tired of the body positivity movement. Everyday my in-box is flooded with memes telling me I am perfect, sexy, and strong. I receive countless messages commanding me to love myself from head to toe. I read stories about the hotness of the fatkini, desirability of cellulite, and sizzling sex life of plus size model Tess Holliday. Tess is indeed awesome. I get it. Enough already. Continue reading

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Mirror Image: Guest Post by Anne Pratt

iphone pic I put on facebook

iphone pic I put on facebook

Do you remember the first time you saw yourself in a mirror? Highly unlikely. You probably can’t remember the first time you saw a photograph of yourself either. If you were born after Fisher Price invented crib toys, you probably had a mirror before you could walk or talk. Knowing what we look like is integral and essential to the way we live in the early 21st century. With digital cameras in every phone, not only can we capture our image whenever we want to, we can practice poses, check out angles, smudge over the blemishes, and create an image that presents to the world the face we want, even if it isn’t necessarily the face we have. I know – I’ve done it. Continue reading

On Being Naked

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Is being naked a potentially radical and fulfilling act? Of course. What about posting clothing-less pictures of yourself online? Not so much, especially if you are a woman. Such photos are likely to reinforce the sexist status quo by portraying the female body as an objectified lump of passivity in need of judgement by trolls and everyone else. So why did I include pictures of me wearing only a g-string in my recent book, which will soon be available in both digital and print formats? (http://www.sunypress.edu/p-5981-feminist-figure-girl.aspx). Good question.   Continue reading

Listen to Fitbabe and FFG

This post features the voices of Fitbabe and FFG.

First hear Fitbabe discuss her fitness career and philosophy with Jay Scott at Full Disclosure Fitness. Listen to the podcast here: http://fulldisclosurefitness.com/fdf-072-deanna-harder-i-discuss-fitness-mindset-more/

Then tune in to hear FFG speak about body image with Gianmarco Visconti on CJSR Radio, the student station at the University of Alberta: https://soundcloud.com/cjsrfm/beauty-brains-and-brawn

Is Body Image Overrated?

Are these bodies "really" that diverse? Dove Real Beauty Campaign Ad.

Are these bodies “really” that diverse? Dove Real Beauty Campaign Ad.

In her book Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (2014), Carla Rice reconfirms the commonsense notion that North American popular culture—filled with images of thin white women—damages women’s self-esteem by sending narrow messages about what women should look like. Because the mass media’s standard of beauty excludes 99% of ladies, it encourages them to develop such issues as body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Rice predictably lobbies for more diverse pictures of women. About a decade ago she served as a consultant to Dove, helping that company develop its “Real Beauty” advertising campaign. It was begun in 2004 after surveys revealed that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. Rice urged Dove to appeal to women’s desire for acceptance rather than judgement, admitting that the final (highly controversial) advertisements continued to feature attractive women with flawless skin.

Jo Spence and Tim Sheard, Exiled, 1989. From Narratives of Dis-ease (1989).

Jo Spence and Tim Sheard, Exiled, 1989. From Narratives of Dis-ease (1989).

Yet Dove was late to the party. For decades artists and scholars have intervened in dominant image culture, offering alternative images of fat, sick, differently abled, and lesbian bodies, among others. Artist Jo Spence is well known for scrawling “Monster” across her chest, taking photographs of her cancer treatments in an effort to reclaim and de-medicalize her suffering body. Such transgressive images are much more effective than those produced by Dove, though they have less popular circulation.

While I agree that the current beauty standard is ridiculously limiting, and support the display of diverse female bodies, I think that image culture receives too much attention and has in fact become a scapegoat for women’s body problems.  Continue reading