Class Notes (807,078)
Canada (492,586)
Sociology (3,130)

12 - Deviant Physical Appearances

8 Pages
Unlock Document

Western University
Sociology 2259
Pamela Glatt

Deviant PhysicalAppearances What Does “Normal” Look Like? • Physical appearances tell a story about a person—they demonstrate how this person is going to be perceived by society • Determines how we act and present ourselves in society—we put on a physical persona • We associate certain meanings with certain physical appearances • Our bodies are the “defining” feature of us • Our bodies are the medium through which we perpetrate our identities • When we encounter someone, we often make value judgements based on how they are physically presenting themselves • We actively negotiate who we are through our bodies (**agency**) • We have all these different body regimens PhysicalAppearance as Deviant • We socially type certain types of physical appearances as deviant • We have certain ways of fashioning or fixing our bodies so we don't look deviant • Deviant physical appearances are often dependent on the sociohistorical context: ◦ Historical time-frame ▪ Ex. hundreds of years ago lighter skin was desired whereas now many people wish to be darker ◦ Place/context ▪ Ex. during Halloween it is acceptable to be dressed deviant and not seen as so • These physical appearances can be: ◦ Voluntary—tattoos piercings ◦ Involuntary—birth defects, height, disabilities ◦ Combination of both—your body language, body weight PhysicalAppearances as Master Status • It's not necessarily the physical appearance itself that generates social reaction • The social reaction in regards to physical appearance plays a big role in whether it is defined as deviant • Physical appearance becomes a master status because of the meanings, stereotypes, interpretations, etc attached to it • Auxiliary traits attached to master statuses make them significantly • Why are certain forms of physical appearance socially typed as deviance? Body Projects • Body Projects: the ways that each of us adapts, changes, or controls characteristics of our bodies, and whether those characteristics are involuntary, voluntary, or both • What we do with the characteristics of our body • Change the functioning of our bodies to an extent—ex. Shaving for swimming or biking, glasses, wheelchair, braces • Modify our appearance—ex. People with braces may try and hide their teeth while smiling • We all engage in various types of body projects—What are some examples? • Types of body projects: ◦ Camouflaging ◦ Extending ◦ Adapting ◦ Redesigning Camouflaging Projects • Camouflaging: normative techniques of body manipulation learned in socialization processes • Ways that we learn to change our bodies and mold ourselves into what is expected of us • Almost like rights of passages that we learn through socialization • Examples: makeup, hairstyles, dress, etc. • We learn how to camouflage—how to “fit in” • We learn to mold ourselves into a positive societal image • We learn to fashion our bodies in “normal”, seemingly “appropriate ways” • What does this look like? Extending Projects • Extending: overcoming one's physical limitations • Examples: hair extensions, contact lenses, cane, wheelchair, etc. • We learn how to overcome a physical limitation we have in order to appear normal to others • People with physical disabilities often engage in “extending” • Extending is about projecting a “fixed”, “better” image of ourselves Adapting Projects • Adapting: removing part(s) of the body for aesthetic and/or medical reasons • Adapting to a certain social image of yourself to look normative • Examples: mastectomy, muscle building, hair removal, weight loss, etc • Particularly...body sizeAND body weight are important in regards to adapting projects • The social typing of body size/weight permeates many institutions in society, ex. Media, family, education, etc. Redesigning Projects • Redesigning: reconstructing the body in lasting ways—ways that you can't really wash off • AKA “body modification”, or “body art” • The media feeds us an ideal body • Examples: plastic surgery, tattoos, body piercings, etc. • Become increasingly popular and “normalized” over past few decades • Influences of the “supermarket era”—easy(ish) access to body modification techniques • Tattoos and piercings are specifically more prevalent among youth—why? Why “Adapt” or “Redesign”? • Aesthetic appeal—beauty and attractiveness ideals ◦ Looks do matter to an extent • Social identity—wanting to fit in • Personal identity—unhappy with current physical appearances • Medically-related AestheticAppeal and Attractiveness • In our society, attractiveness is placed at such a high premium • We have high expectations as to what “attractiveness” entails, yet so little people actually fit into this ideal • Cultural ideals f attractiveness differ for men and women—related to what we consider feminine and masculine • What does feminine attractiveness look like? • What does masculine attractiveness look like? Body Modification Techniques • Genital bleaching • Breast implants • Lipsuction • Penis enlargement • Nipple piercing • Hair removal • Hair rejuvenation • What is the appeal of such body modification techniques? • What makes something physically attractive? • Is body modification about yourself? Others? Society? • There is a certain premium that is attractive and that being white is the ideal beauty • Cosmetic industry bills in $180 billion a year • We feel like we have these needs in society to change our bodies to look a certain way— perpetrated by the media • New ideas of what is considered physically attractive change fairly often throughout the years WhatAre The 2 Most Common Things Women WorryAbout? 1. Weight 2. Breast size • Why? ◦ Arguably most visible parts of the female body --> symbolize femininity, sexuality, and attractiveness ◦ When determining if someone if male or female you would generally look to see if the person has breasts • Goldie Locks Complex ◦ Relates to weight and breast size ◦ Doesn't want to be too big or too small, want to be just right • Panoptic Male Gaze ◦ Ideas that women are constantly watching to make sure their bodies look a certain way ◦ Not necessarily for the attention of males, but about wanting people to see you in a certain way Weight • Cultural ideals of the “perfect” weight have steadily decreased with modernization especially within last 30-40 years • Marilyn Monroe: size 12, models today: size 2 • This is particularly problematic for young women who are most at risk of developing unhealthy eating habits due to this cult of thinness • 1 of 5 females has an eating disorders • 4 of 5 females has a distorted attitude towards food • Most women don't have eating disorders...but will engage in routinized body regimens to maintain or achieve a certain weight • White middle-class girls in Western society = more likely to develop eating disorder • This is ironic because in a society where we have an abundance of food...we are trying not to eat it! • Men are also subject to judgements about their bodies • Men are expected to be muscular, large, strong, etc. • World Health Organization (WHO) ◦ Underweight BMI: 18.4 ◦ Acceptable BMI: 18.5-24.9 ◦ Overweight BMI: 25-29 ◦ Obese BMI: +30 • Weight has become as issue in our society due to its association with “physical appearance”, rather than the devastating health effects • Objective ways of analyzing weight such as BMI are not accurate Being Overweight • How do we determine if we're overweight? Via health-related concerns, or ideals of physical attractiveness? ◦ We look at the general physical appearance—ex. Body shape • “Stigma of obesity” --> “blaming the victim” • We assume that people who are overweight that they are lazy or eat too much • Stigma of obesity—end up blaming the person who is overweight • Physical stigma or character blemish? What do you think? ◦ Obesity can be a combination of both ◦ Look at someone who is overweight and see a physical stigma and then turn it into a character blemish as we assume certain things about a person based on their weight • Being overweight carries powerful symbolic identity for us • Becomes a master status—overshadows other statuses ◦ Stigma that is very hard to overcome • Double standard of being overweight ◦ Easier for men to be overweight than women ◦ Women will receive more criticism as t
More Less

Related notes for Sociology 2259

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.