The recession and body image

March 29, 2009 at 7:17 pm Leave a comment

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I’ve done a few workshops this month in addition to my regular Friday morning seminar on body image and so I’ve been thinking about body image even more than I do normally.  I’ve been thinking about whether or not the recession will have a positive effect on body image.  I read in a recent articel that 59% of people who had been considering plastic surgery say the recession has put a hold on their plans.  I also read that the price paid for shots of celebs out doing their thing is way down.  I can’t but wonder if we will stop investing in media that puts women’s lives up for grabs as we try to mind our dollars.  Could it be that because these are more serious times, it seems frivilous to spend so much time dissecting our appearance and the apperance of others?  And if those things happen, could it be that more of us will move to an understanding that beauty– and what we understand it to be– should be an individual construct (we should each be defining beauty uniquely for ourselves) and give up any notion that a cultural construct, a pop culture construct of beauty has any value whatsoever?  What do you think? 

And one more thing.  I have my students write their own body image autobiographies at the beginning of each semester.  I also have them conduct body image interviews with two people in their lives and then write a reaction paper.  One of my students interviewed her mom and when she asked her mom what advice she had for those struggling with their body image, her mom said,  “It is better to be happy with yourself than to be happy that others are happy with you.” I just loved that advice.

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In a Bookstore Near You

What does it mean to be beautiful in America? For years, pop culture has insisted that beautiful women are tall, thin, and blonde. So what do you do if your mirror reflects olive skin, raven hair, and a short build? Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina offers a provocative account of the struggles and triumphs of Latina forced to reconcile these conflicting realities. Rosie Molinary combines her own experience with the voices of hundreds of Latinas who grew up in the US navigating issues of gender, image, and sexuality. This empathetic ethnography exemplifies the ways in which our experiences are both profoundly individualistic and comfortingly universal.
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