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Our bodies, although perceived as private spaces for practicing personal agency and control, often tend to define and are defined by other bodies around us. We create various images of our bodies through different socio-cultural and political behaviours, attitudes and expectations that the society and its institutions such as religion, media, family, government and education bestows upon us. Similarly, we also formulate ideas around other bodies with respect to our interpretations of the above mentioned factors. These create images in our minds which are induced with various meanings that often either positively or negatively influence and discriminate against people in everyday life. For example, in India, lower caste people are generally pictured as dark-skinned (often seen as a negative attribute, especially in women), which fuels the traditional caste system understood by the varna hierarchy. Hence, our bodies frequently become our primary identities and play a principal role in shaping the identity politics present in our society. 

Do our bodies then at all, solely belong to us? 

Does our body exist beyond our imagination of the personal and tend to become an object of public space, introspection and scrutiny? 

For as long as one could remember, marginalised bodies be that of women, lower caste people, people of colour, indigenous groups etc., have been used as objects of scientific experiments, capitalist endeavours, male gaze and curiosity, state and religious interventions and patriarchal domination. These bodies and their images were exploited in diverse ways by people with socio-political power to meet their personal goals, be it of profit making in cinema and pop culture, developing scientific knowledge and medicine or for fighting wars. 

However, in more recent times, various movements have been organised to oppose such historically oppressive ideas of marginalised bodies. Women, Trans people, Fat-bodied people, People of Colour, Dalits, People with Disabilities, Men and the Aged, have challenged such tendencies of compartmentalising and creating moralistic understandings of good vs. bad bodies, fit vs. unfit bodies, superior vs. inferior bodies, or beautiful vs. ugly bodies. These encounters become crucial in understanding how our ideas about our bodies as well as that of others have transformed through space and time. 

Also read: Body Neutrality—An Alternative to Body Positivity

For July 2020, FII is looking for article submissions on the topic of Feminism And Body Image, to highlight the diverse range of experiences which we often confront, with respect to our bodies in private or public spaces, or both. Here are some possible pointers which might help you write your articles,

  • Intersectionality: Caste, Class, Gender, Disability, Sexuality, Conflict
  • History of Body Image and the Construction of Stereotypes
  • Movements around Body and Body Image
  • Profiles for Body Positive Leaders, Artists, Activists
  • Law and Policy Around Our Bodies
  • Transpeople’s Bodies and their Activisms
  • Clothing and Body Image
  • Age, Ageing and Body Image 
  • Medicine, Health and Marginalised Bodies, Body Image Disorders
  • Media Representations and Pop Culture
  • Bodies and Its Relationship with Food and ‘Fitness’
  • Beauty and Body (Myths, Body Positivity, Body Neutrality)
  • Interpersonal Relationships, Friendships, Intimacy, Sex and Sexuality
  • Body Policing: Religion, Family, Government, Educational Institutions
  • Mental Health and Body Image

Also read: Clicking Nudes: Documenting The Journey Of Self-Love For My Body

You can send us your submissions to pragya@feminisminindia.com. This list is not exhaustive. Please feel free to write about other topics, which we might have missed listing. We understand that some of you might be uncomfortable writing about your personal experiences. You can let us know in your submission mail whether you would want to remain Anonymous when we publish your articles.


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