|By Lequart (Paris)|
|Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81980688|
Take a moment to reflect on your personal self image. In particular, how you think and feel about your body. Is it a thing of perfection and beauty? Do you admire the body that has permitted “you” to interact within the world? How has it adapted and changed over the span of your lifetime? Perhaps more importantly how has your attitude towards your body changed over time?
How you answer each of these questions is going to reflect significantly on the cultural environment you were raised in. Most influential of all are the stories you were told as a child about your body. For example, those with a religious upbringing may have been told that their body is a thing of shame, to be concealed and covered up. Any and all carnal thoughts are sinful; so it’s highly likely as an adult you have a semblance of shame or modesty about your body.
For people of colour, they no doubt experienced around them various forms of racism, and the stories they were maybe told is that the colour of their skin defined who they were. Closely associated with this might have been their sense of worth or value within a predominately non-coloured society.
One thread to be considered here is who “you” are, and whether or not the perception you have of your body accurately represents that who. A second somewhat related thread is the commoditisation of our being through the manipulation of our self image. For the most part, how advertising leads us to think, feel and relate to our bodies.
Where advertising in particular is concerned; this ranges from medication, fitness and supplements to address the various ailments modern life throws at us. Through to the type of food we should or shouldn’t be consuming.
There is then the beauty and fashion market, not to mention lifestyle advertising that aims to lull us into a sense of acceptance provided we drive the right car, vacation in the perfect paradise etc. To glimpse at this correlation, just note the advertising demographic that a particular make and model of vehicle is targeting. Now compare this to what you see around you. Notwithstanding confirmation bias, you might be shockingly surprised how many have taken the bait.
In the most subtle of ways, a lot of our cultural and advertising programming aims to make each of us feel as though we’re the centre of all attention. We ourselves tend to scrutinise everyone else to determine whether they are compliant to acceptable social norms. Little wonder that a large majority of us are incredibly self conscious about our public appearance.
So imagine if you weren’t the centre of attention. Nobody paid any notice of you at all; and for all intents and purposes, you could actually do as you please? Would that change anything about the way you conduct yourself?
The most judgemental person in the world is arguably ourselves. The whole of society since birth has trained us to be a harsh self critic, faulting almost everything that we do. Unless we’ve worked to free ourself of personal judgement, we spend an extraordinary amount of time imagining what other people are going to think of us.
As a result, we are often a prisoner of our own penal system. This what the card above symbolises. The yoke around the necks could easily be lifted off, but so deceieved by our own thoughts, this simply doesn’t occur to us.
We scold ourselves for being too fat, too lazy, too active or too inactive. Indulging when we shouldn’t have indulged. Even though all those ads convince us that we deserve a treat. To be spoiled no matter the consequence. Almost without fail it’s our imagination that spins a narrative for us about how others might react to our appearance and behaviour.
Blog posts under the body category seek to explore all these thoughts and questions, with an aim to rethinking the status quo. Leveraging our mind to free the body so that we might interface and connect with nature.