In an interview with ESPN for the 2015 Body Issue, USA Track & Field hammer thrower Amanda Bingson asserts, “Whatever your body type is, just use it.” Frankly, I could not agree more.
Western consumer culture increasingly views the body as an individual project and primary site for identity construction. Women, in particular, experience their bodies as not solely for their pleasure and amusement but as under the constant gaze of others, i.e., a body-for-others experience, and are increasingly judged on their “good looks” rather than their “good works.” Accordingly, women monitor, invest in, and manipulate their bodies, with beauty as the primary goal. In this pursuit of beauty, women engage in body regimes to cultivate their physiques at the disproportionate expense of their time, money, and other interests. This cycle of cosmetics, beauty aids, diets, and exercise fanaticism serves to imprison women in their bodies, bodies that continually require new products and procedures to repair any possible “imperfections.” Women become objects in their own never-ending projects of becoming.
Trapped in a narcissistic world of images and the ubiquitous selfie, we seem to have forgotten that our very bodies have a function besides looking good. The body is a tool for sensation, movement, communication, procreation, etc. Rather than a project to be worked on, we should focus our attention on how we can use our bodies to achieve our goals, just like the stellar athletes featured in the magazine. They work with their bodies, not against or in spite of them, to achieve the unbelievable. Now, doesn’t THAT look good?