Female Bodies in Consumption Societies: Subjection or Agency

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Maria Joao CUNHA, CIEG/ISCSP - ULisboa 5161800401, Portugal
In consumption societies, the body in its appearance and ability to construct identities has been a gendered issue as pressures on women to comply with a certain body type are stronger than on men.

Since the 1990’s the study of body image has developed the idea that lifestyles and body planning have become a part of everyday life. In this communication, we intend to discuss two different interpretations for female body projects. In the one hand, body projects imply an active control through certain lifestyle options, which may imply that reflexivity and agency are main individual features that could even translate the idea of empowered women through body awareness. On the other hand, and drawing upon feminist theories, this supposed agency capacity must comply with ideal images that have been conveyed in different media showing a stereotyped female image of youth, beauty, health and thinness which hence leads us to female bodies as objects of men’s consumption – therefore with a subjection that annihilates any agency capacity.

We depart from discussing the concept of agency applied to female body projects to then cross analyze studies results from diverse cultures, comparing western and eastern societies. This approach enables the analysis of globalization effects as well as the comparison of defiance and compliance strategies in the living female body.