‘Using a Range of Cultures, Examine How Far the Body Is Conformed by Society and Culture’

‘Using a Range of Cultures, Examine how Far the Body is Conformed by Society and Culture’

Over the years, human beings have used their appearance as a ‘medium of expression’. Ted Polhemus states that our appearance can be used as a method of sending ‘precisely the right signals’ to others. A person’s image can present their culture, style and identity. This adds a vital structure to our lives; ‘presentation of self is fundamental to our lives’. In some cases, people go to the extent of altering their actual bodies as well as their external characteristics. This sounds extreme however it is a very common practise.

This is a good introduction and there is some analysis with the use of Polhemus. I have not heard of him myself but this is not a reason for not crediting it. However, it would be good to refer to the point about range of cultures. I am assuming that this is a question 6 type question because of the need to examine ‘how far’. This means that the intro should refer to the question of ‘how far’ and give some idea of the line of argument.

One way in which the body is conformed by culture is through eating habits. This can be provoked by a number of things: society, culture, religion. Anne Becker’s study of women and girls in Fiji exemplifies how cultural beliefs can lead to changes in diet. Traditional Fijian culture declares that ‘big is beautiful’, resulting in ‘nicely rounded’ bodies becoming ‘the norm’. This shows people altering their bodies and conforming in order to display their culture and develop respect from peers in their society. Becker discovered that after satellites began beaming television signals to the region, Fijian girls wanted to have the stature of women starring in the Western programmes; far from their mothers and aunts.

Good use of an ethnographic example. Is there a counter point to this, though? Is it all conforming to society? If the question is asking for ‘how far’ then this needs to be addressed in the context of...