Big Question: What is Freedom?

Everyday, we see desired bodies. Inundated with advertisements, consumers quickly learn what is desirable and what is not. However – in reality – desirability is not fixed. Despite what our televisions and billboards tell us, one size does not fit all. Based on culture, race, class and sexual orientation, the desirable body shifts. However, what seemingly does not change is that there is a desirable body. There is an ideal. This ideal is constraining, restricts our freedom and partly disables our ability to fully love ourselves.

Whether you worship thin Victoria’s Secret models or idealize Beyonce’s curves, most people prize a certain body type. People also negate the entire person and choose to solely desire a component of the body, such as a women’s breasts or bottom. The desirable body adversely affects men and women. Body ideals change our bodies from forces of freedom to sources of oppression and anxiety. Interestingly, the body ideal creates body anxiety. In particular, fat phobia, corresponding body anxiety and subsequent dieting pervades American society (Wann and Hesse-Bieber).

Due to recent readings and personal experiences, I have wondered, how can this system be subverted? How can we appreciate multiple bodies? How can all bodies become desired bodies, and in turn how can we create a freer culture where all are celebrated?

Marilyn Wann, “Fat Studies: An Invitation to Revolution” (2009)

Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber, “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food Dieting, and Recovery” (2007)

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