This week we were in the swing of LYB week, so we decided to collaborate with some great orgs to discuss Body Politics and Identity. Delta Xi Nu, a multicultural sorority, Alpha Phi Gamma, Aisan-American interest sorority and the Multicultural Center worked with us to create a thought-provoking discussion about personal experiences with body politics.
“The term body politics refers to the practices and policies through which powers of society regulate the human body, as well as the struggle over the degree of individual and social control of the body. The powers at play in body politics include institutional power expressed in government and laws, disciplinary power exacted in economic production, discretionary power exercised in consumption, and personal power negotiated in intimate relations. Individuals and movements engage in body politics when they seek to alleviate the oppressive effects of institutional and interpersonal power on those whose bodies are marked as inferior or who are denied rights to control their own bodies.” Source here
Starting with this definition of body politics, we looked at Priscilla Yuki Wilson’s experiment to see how international editors would Photoshop her to make her beautiful in different cultures. You can find the pictures here. In many of the photos, her facial features were altered in order to make her appear younger and thinner; but in almost every picture her skin was lightened, highlighting that race is an extremely important part of body politics.
Afterwords everyone anonymously wrote things they had heard or felt about there body on slips of paper, and representatives from the groups took turns reading them aloud. There were discussions about body hair, breast size, how being skinny doesn’t equal being healthy, and a lot about hair; whether its alternative or edgy styles, or choosing to go completely natural. We were able to talk through insecurities and past experiences, and affirm that everyone’s body is deserving of love, no matter how we choose to modify or dress it.
Whether you were or weren’t there, it can be a good idea to think about how you got your body politics. How do you navigate them in the many parts of your life? What sort of identities do you claim and how does that affect body politics for you?
Next week in honor of actress Laverne Cox gracing Mizzou with her presence on Monday, we’ll be talking about how feminism has failed trans women, and how we can do better.
Until next time,