Anthropology 305 Final Project

This blogspot is for my Anthropology 305 class about the anthropology of the body. The goal is to collect images to critique in relation to quotations from the course text.


Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion, p. 137 (Judith Butler, 1993)
"What becomes clear in the enumeration of the kinship system that surrounds the ball is nt only that the 'houses' and the 'mothers' and the 'children' sustain the ball, but that the ball is itself an occasion for the building of a set of kinship relations that manage and sustain those who belong to the houses in the face of dislocation, poverty, homelessness. These men 'mother' one another, 'house' one another, 'rear' one another, and the resignification of the family through these terms is not a vain or useless imitation, but the social and discursive building of community, a community that binds, cares, and teaches, that shelters and enables. This is doubtless a cultural reelaboration of kinship that anyone outside of the privilege of heterosexual family (and those within those 'privileges' who suffer there) needs to see, to know, and to learn from, a task that makes none of us who are outside of heterosexual 'family' into absolute outsiders in this film."

In the movie Paris is Burning, we are told that the original families of the drag queens are in some way unhealthy environments, or that the families in fact rejected the queens for being themselves. As a result, the drag queens create new families, which are not based on a man, a woman, and children, but instead a group of human beings in a mutual bond. Their houses have a "mother" who cares for the other members. It is clear from the film that the queens are happy in their drag families, that here, they feel accepted.

Similarly, in You Don't Know Dick, there are also mothers who do not look like the mothers that most expect. One scene in particular points out a daughter who is very upset that her mother will not come to her wedding dressed as her mother. She claims that this is the one day that she wants her to do this, and yet she will not do it. However, from the rest of her monologue, it is clear that she is consistently upset by her mother's transition. Many people in class thought that this seemed reasonable, that her mother was betraying her role. However, as is evidenced in Paris is Burning, and with other parent-child relationships in You Don't Know Dick, it does not take a female body to be a mother.

This would perhaps raise the question of reproduction, and how of course one needs female "parts" in order to have children. But what, then, of women who have had hysterectomies, as in the image in the middle? Are they any less mothers? We have questioned even whether sex should be tied to the body, so why are we stuck tying motherhood to it as well? And what, then, about intersex infants who are raised as females? Everything external about such individuals fits the definition of "female" and "woman," except perhaps, for example, a lack of menstruation due to gonadal sex (undescended testes, which go undetected until the lack of menstruation prompts medical evalutation) (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome). Would it be just as taboo for such a woman to adopt children and mother them, or would it be okay simply because society has recognized her as a woman despite her lack of internal female structures?

It is surprising to me that anthropologists could be so critical of the families portrayed in Paris is Burning and You Don't Know Dick. In my anthropology class in high school, we spent an entire unit learning about kinship systems, and all the different ways that families could be structured. At the time it was indeed confusing as it contradicted so much of what we knew. However, how are these two examples any different from the kinship systems of other cultures? Besides, of course, in the ways that these examples and the other cultures are different from ours.

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Racism in Surgery and Performance

The Racial Nose, p. 93 (Sander Gilman (1999)
"Harmony is the norm, which is disrupted by the too-small nose. Symmetry is the ideal that dominates the meaning of the healthy, beautiful face in the nineteenth century and is the wellspring of the normative ideals, which the too-small nose violated. Harmony and symmetry express the universal perfection of the human countenance. All variation from an idealized norm is thus given moral meaning."

p. 108
"The specific reason for such aesthetic surgical procedures was the ability to increase one's income or marriageability by looking more Western and thus to ensure 'personal happiness.'"

p. 115-16 (Patricia J. Williams)
"'What made it 'the very worst kind' of assimilationism was that it was also assimilation out of the very right to coexist in the world with that most basic legacy of our own bodies. What made it so bad was the unself-conscious denial of those violent social pressures that make so irresistible the 'choice' to cut off that perfect replica of one's grandmother's nose in favor of a trendier, more 'acceptable' model.'"

The True Self, p. 41 (Carl Elliott, 2003)
"This is what W. E. B. Du Bois was getting at in a famous passage from The Souls of Black Folk, when he described this sort of mirroring as 'double consciousness.' Black people in America always have the sense of 'looking at one's self through the eyes of others,' wrote Du Bois, 'of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.' Black Americans always feel their two-ness, Du Bois wrote, because the way they see themselves is distorted by the way they are seen by others."

Is Paris Burning? p. 149 (bell hooks, 1992)
"For in many ways the film was a graphic documentary portrait of the way in which colonized black people (in this case black gay brothers, some of whom were drag queens) worship at the throne of whiteness, even when such worship demands that we live in perpetual self-hate, steal, lie, go hungry, and even die in its pursuit. The 'we' envoked here is all of us, black people/people of color, who are daily bombarded by a powerful colonizing whiteness that seduces us away from ourselves, that negates that there is beauty to be found in any form of blackness that is not imitation whiteness."

In Western Eyes, we saw a number of individuals who were seeking plastic surgery to appear more Western. Some of the paraphrased quotations that I have from the film are:
"The closer you resemble Europeans, the better you are."
"A hierarchy of beauty."
"If that's the way they perceive you, you start to believe it."

These quotations reflect the attitudes and beliefs that Sander Gilman and Carl Elliott are discussing. A side that seemed to not come up in our class discussion, however, was that of Patricia J. Williams and bell hooks: racism. While these plastic surgery endeavors may be about becoming more beautiful, you must ask -- who decided that Western features were the most beautiful, at the top of this "hierarchy of beauty"? Patricia J. Williams' analysis of course aims more at the subject of plastic surgery, while bell hooks' encompasses many different behaviors, all centered around becoming more Westernized. To me, both get very efficiently at the sad, horrific, and tumultuous feelings that I think should arise when examining such a phenomenon.

Is one form better or worse than the other? Is it worse to change one's body or to change one's behavior? Both change how the person is perceived, although one is more permanent than the other. Is it better for this change to be dedicated as a lifestyle, as in the case of the drag queens, or as a way to feel better and move on with life, as in the case of plastic surgery? Are they the same?

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The Looking Glass

The young man stepped into the hall of mirrors
Where he discovered a reflection of himself
Even the greatest stars discover themselves in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars discover themselves in the looking glass
Sometimes he saw his real face
And sometimes a stranger at his place
Even the greatest stars find their face in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars find their face in the looking glass
He fell in love with the image of himself
and suddenly the picture was distorted
Even the greatest stars dislike themselves in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars dislike themselves in the looking glass
He made up the person he wanted to be
And changed into a new personality
Even the greatest stars change themselves in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars change themselves in the looking glass
The artist is living in the mirror
With the echoes of himself
Even the greatest stars live their lives in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars live their lives in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars fix their face in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars fix their face in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars live their lives in the looking glass
Even the greatest stars live their lives in the looking glass
- kraftwerk, hall of mirrors

The True Self, p. 42 (Carl Elliott, 2003)
"Technology has become a way for some people to build or reinforce their sense of dignity while standing in front of the social mirror. The mirror is critically important for identity; it is rare for anyone in a democratic society to be completely unaware of it. Most of us can keenly identify with the shame that a person feels when society reflects back to them an image that is degrading or humiliating. But the flip side to shame is vanity. It is also possible to become obsessed with the mirror, to spend hours in front of it, preening and posing, flexing your deltoids, admiring your hair. It is possible to spend so much time in front of the mirror that you lose any sense of who you are apart from the reflection that you see."

p. 46
"Body modification is one way of coping with the social mirror: adjusting yourself in front of it until the mirror tells you that you look okay."

As Carl Elliott says, society shows us how we are seen. In the images at left, a black woman looks into the mirror and sees something ugly (reminiscent of just a few sentences before this Elliott quote, as seen in the section Racism in Surgery and Performance), and an anorexic girl looks in the mirror and sees herself as fat. The mirror that these women are looking into is that of popular culture -- institutionalized racism, media images depicting beautiful women as underweight, and so on. However, as we saw in the Fanta Girls film and in the prevalence of eating disorders, these reflections can be evaded.

What is the difference between these evasions and changing one's sex, however? On the one hand, a person is seeking to destroy that which society tells them is wrong. They are caught up in a struggle against a mirror that they should ignore. On the other hand, a person is seeking to become their own mirror, to create an image that will reflect their "true selves."

The song by Kraftwerk posted above simply serves as a lyrical example of how we all, indeed, even the greatest of us, are susceptible to discover, find, dislike, change, and fix ourselves in the looking glass. We can all get stuck living our lives in the looking glass, constantly attempting to make society reflect back something it deems good.

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3rd Wave Feminism

Lifebuoy Men, Lux Women, p. 57 (Timothy Burke, 1996)
"White women who were FWISR members were in some ways subjected to some of the same forces and expectations that affected the lives of African women; the gradual control granted to FWISR members over institutions that shaped domesticity for Africans was largely motivated by an attempt to grant white women a specialized form of colonial power without interfering with patriarchal perogatives."

The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity, p. 165-66 (Susan Bordo, 1993)
"...through the organization and regulation of the time, space and movements of our daily lives, our bodies are trained, shaped, and impressed with the stamp of prevailing historical forms of selfhood, desire, masculinity, femininity. Such an emphasis casts a dark and disquieting shadow across the contemporary scene. For women, as study after study shows, are spending more time on the management and discipline of our bodies than we have in a long, long time. In a decade marked by a reopening of the public arena to women, the intensification of such regimens appears diversionary and subverting. Through the pursuit of an ever-changing, homogenizing, elusive ideal of femininity--a pursuit without a terminus, requiring that women constantly attend to minute and often whimsical changes in fashion--female bodies become docile bodies--bodies whose forces and energies are habituated to external regulation, subjection, transformation, 'improvement.' Through the exacting and normalizing disciplines of diet, makeup, and dress--central organizing principles of time and space in the day of many women--we are rendered less socially oriented and more centripetally focused on self-modification. Through these disciplines, we continue to memorize on our bodies the feel and conviction of lack, of insufficiency, of never being good enough. At the farthest extremes, the practices of femininity may lead us to utter demoralization, debilitation, and death."

Revolution from Within: Self-Government and Self-Esteem, p. 88 (Barbara Cruikshank, 1999)
"English assumes that 'real' politics does not occur in personal life and that genuine political resistance is aimed at the social order as a whole, not at one's self. Reading the self-esteem movement as a symptom of the political demobilization of feminism, critics charge that movement with taking the slogan 'the personal is political' a bit too literally. To the contrary, I argue in this chapter that critics should take the slogan quite literally in order to recognize the ways in which the political has been reconstituted at the level of the self. "

The image above shows only one form of distraction among girls and young women in the media: magazines. Seventeen, a popular magazine for teens girls, regularly features a female celebrity on the cover, with story headlines surrounding that are meant to entice, and thus are indicative of what the magazine expects teenage girls to be interested in. The cover featured on the left boasts 698 ways to look pretty (and exclusive discounts inside, indicating that the "ways" involve buying products), inside information on who Hilary Duff is crushing on (because even a successful starlet's most important endeavors revolve around men), and secrets about fashion, beauty, and even sexual information on how to determine what your actions define you as. The image in the middle is a screenshot from, cut and pasted to show the navigation bar and the six different featured articles shown on the home page. A "cosmo girl" is clearly defined by this image: interested in sex, love, style, beauty, hot guys, celebrities, gossip, themselves, fun, games, and all things related to the magazine. The six top articles reflect these interests, and navigating through the website reveals hundreds of other juicy articles to satisfy any "typical" teen.

Distraction among girls and young women with media and obsession with appearance is a big concern of 3rd wave feminism. Feminists recognize that girls and women tend to not be expected to learn about or be involved in politics or other important parts of society. This distraction is very similar to the topics discussed by Timothy Burke and Susan Bordo. Women are encouraged to focus on inconsequential and frivolous activities, which are not only damaging to women, as Bordo points out, but also keeps them out of the way of the privileged male perpetuates the "patriarchal perogatives" that Burke speaks of.

Similarly, some feminists are criticized for focusing too much on the concept of the "personal as political." Critics say that this notion is too dominant and makes women focus only on their personal experience rather than coalescing with women as a whole for a feminist movement. But perhaps the problem is instead in the interpretation of the phrase, and as Barbara Cruikshank argues, "the political has been reconstituted at the level of the self." Just take, as an example, the images above: political distraction among girls and young women involving their personal, daily lives.

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Docile Bodies, p. 138 (Michel Foucault, 1995)
"Thus discipline produces subjected and practised bodies, 'docile' bodies. Discipline increases the forces of the body (in economic terms of utility) and diminishes these same forces (in political terms of obedience). In short, it dissociates power from the body; on the one hand, it turns it into an 'aptitude', a 'capacity', which it seeks to increase; on the other hand, it reverses the course of the energy, the power that might result from it, and turns it into a relation of the strict subjection. If economic exploitation separates the force and the product of labour, let us say that disciplinary coercion establishes in the body the constricting link between an increased aptitude and an increased domination."

Plastic-Teeth Extraction, p. 164 (Brad Weiss, 1996)
"Thus, the power of the subjective authority to which the child submits as object is realized in the constitution of the child's subjectivity. The objective submission of the child implies the potential for subjective action. The coordination of these potentials demonstrates that the child's self/world, subject/object orientation is reflexively constructed, and infused with the relations and meanings of power that produce it."

pac·i·fi·er [pas-uh-fahy-er] –noun
1.a person or thing that pacifies.
2.a rubber or plastic device, often shaped into a nipple, for a baby to suck or bite on.

Pacifiers, for which the purpose is to comfort an infant, seem to force young children into docility. They soothe children, and are commonly known to keep children from crying. In a way, they increase the economic utility of infants, as they are then forced to watch, listen, and hopefully learn from the world around them. They also increase obedience, as they are persuaded not to cry. Pacifiers do exactly what is implied by their name: they pacify. Similar to what Foucault says in Docile Bodies, pacifiers reverse the course of energy from an outward proclamation of dissatisfaction (crying) to an inward acquisition of observations. More along the lines of Weis' comments, the infant is subjected to whatever surrounds it, dominated by whatever others teach. In other words, the pacifying of the child allows it to be acted upon and taught or forced to listen, which implies an eventual active role, post-discipline. The child will take part in that active role, in part, as a response to what it sees and hears during the time that it is pacified. Thus, "the objective submission of the child implies the potential for subjective action."

Video source:
Image source:

Ana and Mia are my friends - "pro-ED" communities

Amputees by Choice, p. 117 (Carl Elliott, 2003)
"It took about ten seconds to find dozens of Web sites devoted to the topic. ... On the Internet you can find a community to which you can listen or reveal yourself, and instant validation for your condition, whatever it may be. ... To discover that she was not alone was wonderful--but it also meant that a desire she had managed to push to the back of her mind now shoved its way to the front again. It occupied her conscious thoughts in a way that was uncomfortable. She says she knows wannabes who subscribe to as many as a dozen wannabe and devotee on-line mailing lists and spend hours every day wading through electronic messages."

Crafting Resourceful Bodies and Achieving Identities, p. 46 (Helen Gremillion, 2003)
"While a slender and fit body signifies autonomy and success for women, it also implies dependence on others' approval. In addition, controlling bodily needs through dieting and exercise paradoxically calls attention to these needs. Anorexia highlights this contradiction; food refusal and compulsive exercising are forms of self-control that continually create the very desires that seem to require control. Of course, dominant cultural representations of fitness obscure this contradiction: fitness naturalizes the values of willpower and self-control by construing the body as a kind of personal natural resource for creating a powerful, fit, and achieving self. At the same time, however, it seems that special efforts are required to create a fit female body. Fitness gendered female is culturally coded as an unending struggle; as I will discuss, women and girls experience a profound contradiction between the injunction to diet in order to create a fit body, on the one hand, and incitements to consume and to serve food, on the other. ... Dieting and exercise then take on a life of their own and become overwhelming preoccupations."

In the world of online communities, there exists a long list of "pro-ana" or "pro-eating disorder" websites. To the right is an image that serves as a banner for one community on, and to the left is a screenshot of the main page and most recent post on another. This most recent post is particularly convenient, given the discussion by Carl Elliott about online communities. The girl who is posting has been viewing the community for a year, but has finally convinced herself to post simply because she knows that those who see what she writes share the same problems that she possesses. She then follows the standard of these kinds of communities, and posts "thinspiring" pictures of women, and sometimes men, who appear to have eating disorders. A similar community lists in its rules:
- "NO TEXT ONLY POSTS. This includes links. There are plenty of pro-ed communities out there for support, this one is for strictly triggering pictures only. I will give you the benefit of the doubt for the first time you post without a photo, the second time you're out."
Emphasis is not added by me, but is exemplary of the goal: these girls want to be pushed further into their eating disorders. That same community also writes, ironically:
- "Please post one of our promo banners in your user info after you join the community. It helps us grow, and the bigger we are, the better for you."
(emphasis added by me)

These communities are also known for personifying their eating disorders, particularly anorexia as "Ana" and bulimia as "Mia." In this way, the girls find imaginary authorities who tell them they are too fat, as is evidenced in the many versions of the Letter from Ana.

One post on a community which discusses this concept:
"Ana, a Man?
Has anyone else ever construed Ana in their minds as a male entity instead of as a female one?
I personally find men to be better friends and easier to listen to. It's much easier to imagine a man giving me orders, telling me I'm not good enough, and generally controlling me. So when I occasionally do have to think of Ana as a solid concept, He is a male diety. On whom I have the biggest crush of my life, but I'm not sure if He knows, so I'd better do everything He says, the way He likes, so He will notice me.
Sorry if I ruined anything for anybody, or if I'm being sacreligious."

Comment #1: amen to that!
Comment #2: Thats really good, I never thought of that. At first when i was reading it I was thinking, id want a guy who i like and who likes me to be sweet and nice to me, but then when i read that "I'm not sure if He knows" that made it. Thats always what gets me with a guy, where its kind of out there, but im unsure so then i want to be my best and most attractive to him. Thats actually happening right now for me. I love this angle.. thanks for bringing it up!
Comment #3: Wow. I've always had this image of this girl telling me all that stuff. I didn't know a lot of people did it! Infact, I thought it made me somewhat insane. I didn't...I dunno.
A guy. I think I should try that!


This post also exemplifies the ways in which these community members are constantly searching for ways to push themselves further into their disorders. Other examples include daily or weekly competitions or challenges, restricting buddies, exercise buddies, and declaring a theme for the kinds of thinspiration pictures posted (bathing suits, pictures of large people next to thin people, girls with boyfriends, etc.). In the personification of Ana and Mia, the disorder has much more literally taken on "a life of [its] own," and the prevalence of these communities and the number to which each member belongs are clear examples of the way that they, even more than the eating disorders described by Helen Gremillion describes, "become overwhelming preoccupations."

Image and text sources: (specific communities privacy protected)

The Game of Life

Governing enterprising individuals, p. 151 (Nikolas Rose, 1996)
"The self is to be a subjective being, it is to aspire to autonomy, it is to strive for personal fulfillment in its earthly life, it is to interpret its reality and destiny as a matter of individual responsibility, it is to find meaning in existence by shaping its life through acts of choice. These ways of thinking about humans as selves, and these ways of judging them, are linked to certain ways of acting upon such selves. The guidance of selves is no longer dependent on the authority of religion or traditional morality; it has been allocated to 'experts of subjectivity' who transfigure existential questions about the purpose of life and the meaning of suffering into technical questions about the most effective ways of managing malfunction and improving 'quality of life'."

p. 154
"Enterprise can thus be given a 'technological' form by experts of organizational life, engineering human relations through architecture, timetabling, supervisory systems, payment schemes, curricula, and the like to achieve economy, efficiency, excellence, and competitiveness."

The first decision that must be made in The Game of Life, aside from what color mini-van you wish to use as the representation of yourself, is whether you will start college or start a career. The instructions point out the pros and cons of your possible choice: "college offers more career and salary options, but it takes time-and it puts you in debt!" Regardless, a career is required, and the player receives his or her job by drawing a card. A few spins of the wheel forward (because, "just as in real life, you can't go back in time!") is the Marriage Space, which includes a red Stop sign indicating that all players must get married. Other required spaces on the board include a space which requires the player to buy a house, paydays, taxes due, you-just-had-a-baby spaces, and spaces which indicate that the player has either been fired or is having a mid-life crisis, and either way needs to find a new career. At the end of the winding roadmap of life are two possible retirement locations -- one for the rich and one for the not-so-rich. Ultimately, the objective is to make the most money in the end.

First introduced in 1860, and then later re-introduced in its current state in 1960, The Game of LIFE serves as political propaganda for how the average American is to live his or her life as a productive individual of society. Integrating values such as education, marriage, and career success, and morals like recycling, learning CPR, and saying "no" to drugs (1992), this game instills the ethics that Nikolas Rose lists as the goals of enterprising individuals, and leaves little room for other possibilities.

Similarly, almost every commercial break on TV will include an ad about student loans, a career-college, a house-hold product, ways to save money, ways to spend it, an anti-drug campaign commercial, an eco-friendly commercial, or an ad that in some other way delineates the goals of life and how to get there. Besides this, high school students are bombarded with interrogations of where they want to apply to college, what they want to major in, and what they're doing to make sure it happens. College students quickly realize that if they didn't have plans for grad school before, they should consider making some plans now, because it would seem as though a college degree still isn't quite enough. Regardless of how far one pursues his or her education, there is still an aisle at the grocery store dedicated to magazines, a significant percentage of which focuses solely on weddings, and another percentage on family life or home upkeep. The objective that is pressed into the lives of our society from unending directions upholds two main goals: have a family and make money.

Image source:

The Game of LIFE instructions:

History of The Game of LIFE:

Fulfillment through Work

Form Follows Power p. 187 (Stuart Ewen, 1988)
“The automated workplace has, for many who must march to the digital beat, led to a failing sense of self: '...For many people... their self-esteem is supported by a sense of confidence and pride in their skills and abilities. As these skills and abilities are rendered meaningless by automation, workers may experience increased feelings of inadequacy and alienation.'”

The True Self, p. 43 (Carl Elliott, 2003)
"Sartre famously described this kind of inauthenticity in Being and Nothingness: a man who is so wrapped up in the idea of himself as a waiter, so attentive to each nuance of his performance as a waiter, so invested in being a waiter in every way, that his identity has essentially become that of the waiter. There is no longer any difference between his identity and his performance of a social role."

This episode of The Simpson's serves as a contradiction to Ewen's supported claims about the deficiency felt by those who work through an automated machine. Homer, stereotyped to be perpetually lazy and incompetent, has purposely gained 61lbs to go on disability so that he can work from home. Beyond this, later in the episode it is shown that he does not even want to be the one to press the buttons on his computer: he instead uses a broomstick to do it while he sits on the couch, or finds a drinking bird toy to do his work for him.

Similarly, in the 1999 movie Office Space, the leading character, Peter Gibbons, does not want to go in to work. His job, which also involves computers, bores him and feels unimportant. After being hypnotized, he decides to change things up, including multiple instances of not going in to work. In the end, however, after Peter's place of work has been burned down and his confession of embezzling money burned with it, he finds work with his neighbor's construction company. It is here that Ewen's argument finds its way into the movie. Peter admits to being very happy with his new job, and turns down the offer of his old coworkers to join them at another automated job similar to his old one. Ultimately, Peter finds greater satisfaction and contentment by working via his own strength and hand tools rather than through a technological machine.

Carl Elliott discusses the need to not be defined by one's occupation, and to have an identity separate from what one does at work. To relate this back to Office Space, Peter's job is so demanding as the most important aspect of his life that he simply cannot continue to perform that role at all. He instead slacks off and seeks to develop other areas of interest, or other parts of his identity.

It would seem that in popular culture, laziness and a distaste for the toils involved in work are common themes. Few comedies place typical jobs in high esteem. Both examples here, however, illustrate the importance of life outside of work: whether it is fantasizing about spending the day at home with one's family, as in the case of Homer Simpson, or about pursuing other interests and enjoying more free time, as in the case of Peter Gibbons. Either way, these comical characters serve as arguments against boring, mechanical, repetitive jobs.

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Beneath the Skin

Form Follows Power, p. 191 (Stuart Ewen, 1988)
“Their bodies, often lightly oiled to accentuate definition, reveal their inner mechanisms like costly, open-faced watches, where one can see the wheels and gears moving inside, revealing—as it were—the magic of time itself. If this is eroticism, it is one tuned more to the mysteries of technology than to those of the flesh.”

This image of a popular tattoo style called "biomechanical" takes Ewen's critique of muscle-men a step further: A permanent image inked into this man's skin will forever portray a sense of a more realistic machine-man. Rather than well toned and oiled arms to display the inner-workings of his musculature, he has chosen instead to liken himself a robot or machine. Unlike the muscle-man who must work to keep his physique, this man denies that he even possesses muscles, and implies that he instead possesses a mixture of flesh and metal, thus creating some kind of super-human, strong and reliable, very much like the watch Ewen compares with.

In contrast, the image to the right shows a tattoo that intricately portrays the details of a man's musculature. Although the depictions of the muscles will not appear to operate in the same way that the ones beneath his skin do, this tattoo stays true to a fascination with how the human body works, and how it can be modified through exercise (and, obviously, tattoo guns).

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A Formal Presentation

Chosen People, p. 63 (Stuart Ewen, 1988)
“Middle-class homes were marked by front rooms, parlors, adorned with overstuffed furniture, pianos, and other recognized symbols of prosperity. Back rooms, where people retreated from the primacy of display, where more plainly furnished.”

Judging by Appearances, p. 3 (Sander Gilman, 1999)
“In a world in which we are judged by how we appear, the belief that we can change our appearance is liberating. We are what we seem to be and we seem to be what we are! All of us harbor internal norms of appearance by which we decide whom to trust, like, love, or fear. We act as if these internal norms are both fixed and accurate. But we constantly redraw these visual maps as we negotiate the world with all of its complexities. And as we see the world, the world is also seeing us, judging us by our appearance. To become someone else or to become a better version of ourselves in the eyes of the world is something we all want. Whether we do it with ornaments such as jewelry or through the wide range of physical alterations from hair dressing to tattoos to body piercing, we respond to the demand of seeing and being seen.”

When I read this section of Stuart Ewen's Chosen People I was immediately reminded of almost every house I entered as a child, including my own. I had one friend in particular for whom the front living room was "off-limits." Although her house as a whole was indeed very nice looking, the contrast between the stark white carpet and couches, polished dark oak furniture and glass tabletops with the rest of the house was still startling. If nothing else, because this room was so "off-limits," it was kept pristine. Many other houses that I remember friends living in also possessed either a formal living room or dining room, or both. In most cases, play was not allowed in those rooms, and as a child I rarely saw them used. These rooms were always located at the front of the house, near the entry, as is the case in the floor-plans shown here. For anyone who did not enter further than the foyer, these homes and the people who lived in them appeared to be of the utmost distinction and importance. Beyond the prestigious facades, however, any kind of ordinary or uninteresting attributes could be revealed.

Working as an extension of what Sander Gilman says in Judging by Appearances, it can be seen that the efforts to make oneself appear more well-off than one actually may be persist still today, and in the form of posessions rather than just the manifestation of the body. Many people continue to pursue the appearance of high status and class through lavish luxury not only with their bodies or in the public sphere with flashy cars, clothes, and demeanor, but also in their private homes, through the layout, the furnishing, and the decor. As such, those who participate in this appearance maintenance are able to not only indicate to others that they are important, but also to inflate the amount of importance that they feel about themselves and their lives. Success not only becomes money, but also what one does with her or his money, and the ways that one is judged by others.

In the example shown at left, a very expensive home persists in the convention of displaying the most formal rooms at the front of the home. In the case of this house, a formal study, formal living room, and formal dining room are all visible from the foyer. In the examples to the right, more average homes are shown, both displaying formal living and formal dining rooms near the entrance. In the first, everything besides the bedrooms could presumably be up for display, and therefore each room, including the kitchen, would ideally look expensive and neat. In both images, the bedrooms are clustered off to one side of the floor-plan, accessible only through one hallway for all rooms. The second floor-plan also privatizes the kitchen and family room, making it possible that these rooms do not need to be in such pristine order as the formal living and dining rooms do.

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"Natural" Beauty

The Dream of Wholeness, p. 87 (Stuart Ewen, 1988)
“The photographs that serve as the centerpiece of style are shot under carefully planned conditions. Photographers follow the detailed instructions of an art director. The photograph is then passed on to the touch-up artist who will remove 'a few stray strands of hair, smooth...a wrinkle, slim a model's leg,' or do whatever else is necessary to create the effect of immaculate conception.”

The Anthropometry of Barbie, p. 298 (Jacqueline Urla and Alan C. Swedlund, 1995)
"...In short, the majority of women presented to us in the media as having desirable feminine bodies were, like Barbie, well on their way to qualifying for anorexia nervosa."

The video shown above is an alarming example of all of the extra work that goes into a photograph of a 'model'. Acting as a standard or example for all who view her, the actual photograph of this woman looks nothing like her in real life. What is "natural," or unmodified, becomes insufficient, and must be improved to create a normalized ideal. As if the added makeup and lighting is not enough to create the desired image, the producers then go on to photoshop the picture into a figure very much unlike the original. Suddenly, the foundation makeup advertised on the final billboard is apparently not only supposed to make your skin look smoother -- it also lengthens your neck, increases the size of your eyes and lips, and provides a constant wind to make your hair blow beautifully wherever you go.

A similar story is told by the contrasting images of Faith Hill for the cover of an issue of Redbook magazine. Her original shot and the "cover approved" shot are drastically different, with hypercritical corrections on almost every part of her body (even parts that were not originally there -- her added right arm). Ironically, the cover story about Faith and Tim promises to tell "What's normal about them (and what's not!)," keying in on the consumers' desires to fit in with their favorite celebrities. From the contrasting versions of these shots, I think it is clear what Redbook considers normal or not about Faith's appearance. Renewed into a frail, unaged being, a false representation of Faith is expected to pass as a real one, and thus she, despite existing at a healthy weight, perpetuates the media's representation of the ideal woman being underweight.

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