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Body Theories, Practices and Culture - Essay Example

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Humans possess an inherent capacity for self-improvement. Humans wanted to look and feel better at all times. With this in mind, by the end of the 20th century, self-improvement has grown into a huge, multinational commercial industry…
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Body Theories, Practices and Culture
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Body Theories, Practices and Culture

These enhancements have little to do with individual health. In Western cultures, body enhancement is used to strengthen individual image and personal marketability and celebrate the ability to achieve a better position in the consumer society.
Enhancing yourself
Humans are social beings, and society causes profound effects on the individual perceptions of self. The mass culture of consumerism, mass media and changing social norms impose new requirements on society members. Different cultures foster different norms of self-enhancement and wellbeing. In the Western society, slender tanned bodies operate as vehicles of marketable self, the drivers of seduction, and the instruments of achieving a strong competitive advantage (Featherstone 1991). When I decided that I wanted to get rid of a few kilos, I did not realize the underlying meaning of self-enhancement practices. One day, I looked into the mirror and felt that the picture in the mirror differed greatly from what I wanted to see. I thought that getting rid of a few kilograms and making my body tanned would give me a sense of huge personal satisfaction. I was never afraid of challenges; moreover, I always sought to accomplish challenging missions. I thought that body enhancement through exercise and tanning would improve my physical appearance. I also felt that self-enhancement would strengthen my confidence that I was able to achieve a better result, keep myself fit, and control my appetite. This being said, I went to a fitness club and, three months later, I could not recognize myself. Tanned, slim, and fit, I looked several years younger. Friends and relatives would look surprised and envious at how I looked. Undoubtedly, the strategy I used to enhance my body was more than an instrument of physical improvement. It was just a tiny element of the broader cultural movement, where individuals use their physical attributes to market themselves and acquire a better social position/ status. Understanding self-enhancement For the purpose of this analysis, the concept of self-enhancement should be defined and analyzed. Since the concept of enhancement is difficult to define, it is easier to see what enhancement is not. Enhancement is not used to treat physical illnesses (DeGrazia 2005). It would be fair to assume that enhancement is a kind of intervention used “to improve human form or functioning beyond what is necessary to sustain and restore good health” (DeGrazia 2005, p.263). Simply stated, enhancement is never a response to medical needs; it is an instrument of enhancing individual abilities and physical form in the absence of clear medical needs (DeGrazia 2005). My decision to enhance the body had nothing to do with my physiological health. I felt perfect; what I needed was to fit in society’s body expectations. I wanted to exceed those expectations. I wanted to celebrate the cult of the human body. I wanted to make a positive difference and look better than the majority of my friends and peers. I know that body enhancement strategies like training and fitness are considered natural, positive, and virtuous (DeGrazia 2005). Fitness is the model of self-enhancement which, in most cases, lacks artificiality and is rarely condemned by society (DeGrazia 2005). Thus, self-enhancement lacks medical focus, provides a sense of self-satisfaction, and creates a positive image and public perception of ... Read More
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