Lecture- October 15.docx

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Women and Gender Studies
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Victoria Tahmasebi- Birgani

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Lecture- October 15, 2013 Body Projects “One way to think about feminist theory is to say that it investigates how culture saturates the particularities of bodies with meanings and probes the consequences of those meanings” (Rosemarie Garland-Thomson)  Components of culture- race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, language, norms of a culture, religion, education  Capitalism shaping cultural meaning of feminism- i.e. “radiant” tampons “America’s obsession”  One kind of beauty; distortion of beauty  Is pretty the ideal?  Barbie doll syndrome  Distorts how we view ourselves and others  Looks before personality  Magazines advertise perfection  Happiness and success equated with beauty  Makeup- selling beauty- i.e. Mary Kay created her brand to help people feel beautiful  Epidemic of changing bodies Body Project  Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls  “girls today make the body into an all-consuming project in ways young women of the past did not,” Brumberg o Body scrutiny – amount of time put into it, how it affects our lives and relations o Impossible standards o Not just women that have these body projects, not just women  See body as a “problem”; but are all body projects bad? o If you do things to make your body more appealing, is it always for someone else?  Changes in physical maturation process- from girls to women o Mismatch between culture and biology  Rise of medicalization- i.e. maxi pads (now you can live life even on your period)  Ways in which women dressed in 1920s- removing corsets o Once we become teens, now our bodies become sites of anxiety and things that need to be controlled (medicalization of menstruation)  Psychological dimension: bodies as full-time projects o Body dysmorphia – obsession with the body; body is always at core of one’s attention o Maintaining our bodies constantly  Role of medicalizaiton: puberty is “difficult”  Adolescence always time of self-consciousness o Socially and culturally constructed  19thC- emphasis on spiritual development, not body o Class dimension: small hands, feet, wait o Big body, hands, feet: working class Good Works vs. Good Looks  Before WWI: girls’ diaries focus on spiritual improvement (not bodies)  How to be a better person, not have better thighs…  Resolutions Managing the Body  Body needs to be constantly maintained  Less emphasis on individuality  Exterior emphasis: hair, skin, teeth, tone, clothing o How are these managed?  Body talk- negative in tone Types of Body Projects  Conditioning feminine bodies o Thin, beautiful, white  Politics of fatness  Disability and feminism Forces Shaping Our Body Projects  Capitalism: products, advertising, innovation, clothes  Medicalization: o Puberty- danger o Pimples- bad; ie medication for acne  Popular media: actresses who “never” diet; photoshopping; make-up; magazines The Body Project and Femininity  Feminist issue  When girls become teenagers, less focus on studying  Peer pressure 
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