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Sociology of the Body and Freewill - Essay Example

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Every person genetically inherits body physical features like height, skin and hair color from their parents. As is the common nature with people, most are not comfortable with these features, and there is a widespread desire to alter them…
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Sociology of the Body and Freewill
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Sociology of the Body and Freewill

People inherit physical appearance at birth, and it depends on the genetic makeup of one’s parents. The environment is another contributing factor to a person’s appearance with aspects like diet and weather conditions among others determining how an individual grows and takes shape. These changes are natural and occur without conscious help from the individual involved. However, many people are unhappy with the natural look of their bodies; they want to change their bodies to become what they believe is the ideal body. The ideal body is an image fed into people’s minds by many factors in the society including religion and culture. Sociologists know the phenomenon whereby things that occur naturally take a social turn as socialization of nature (Shilling 765; Turner 104).
There are many methods of body modification, ranging from subtle ones to extreme ones, all for the simple reason that one can do it. However, people who modify their bodies cite different reasons including spiritual, cultural, aesthetic, religious, medical and social reasons. Body modification involves common activities like reducing or gaining weight, surgery, genetic modification, piercings, and altering facial features using colors among others. The general perception is that people attempt to change their bodies to suit what they perceive to be the ideal body. However, since psychosocial factors influence the desire for body change, a person may not know when to stop because though the body is changing physically, they may not notice, and some of the attempts to change bodies have had tragic ends (Crossley 20). Statement of the Problem: People are born with particular physical characteristics, but it is largely in their control how they experience, use, interpret, deploy and present their bodies. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Most people are not comfortable with their bodies as they would want to become slimmer, more muscular, taller, lighter, and any other characteristic their social life has taught them as desirable. For instance, the fashion world would want women to believe that the true definition of beauty is a sickly thin body, with long hair among other tricks they use to sell their products. To maintain this body size people go to the extremes and even end up risking their lives. Many factors limit the freedom to change one’s body as wished, which is favorable because several body modification methods like plastic surgery, if not done well, are extremely dangerous. The ability to alter one’s body brings in ethical questions, especially since one does not usually know the psychological effect of body change, or since some individuals undergo these procedures without carefully thinking about them (Gimlin 711). Spiritual Reasons: Traditional religions like the DreamTime of Australia promoted body piercing and branding as a sign of devotion to their gods. As a member of the religion then one had to perform these rituals; in any case, they did not have a choice since traditional elders initiated them into the religion as toddlers. Some of these religions have survived to date and are in the same category with the Opus Dei who practices mortification. Mortification includes, among other practices, wearing ornaments that cause continuous pain on the body for the wearer to suffer as Christ did. Examples of other religions that encourage devotees to modify their bodies include Buddhism, and Hinduism that promote body part contorting among devotees as part of their meditation rituals. Though one is free to change their body as they feel fit, society through religion forces its will on people, forcing them to alter the natural state of their bodies for reasons they do not fully understand (Varga 220). Aesthetic Reasons: This is the most widespread of all reasons for body modifications; looking around one sees plucked eyelashes, some unnatural hair, pierced ears, and painted real or artificial nails. That is the description of beauty, and nobody has it all as they all ... Read More
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