THE CULTURAL IMAGE OF BODY AND ITS MODERN TRANSFORMATIONS
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The human body is not only physical. It is associated with many beliefs and ideas, which make it a cultural construct. The cultural image of the body is composed of beliefs about its optimal shape and size, borders of body, internal structure, how it functions, and about the attire, decorations and marks on the body. The image of the body offers us a framework for the right perception (in a given cultural order), ordering and interpreting corporeal experiences. It also means that it is a type of social control (power) over individual physicality. This power, although scattered, invisible and embodied into our everyday practice, controls the body of the individual so that it has the 'desired' shape, size, attire, proper diet, hygiene, health, attitudes and behaviours. At the same time this power equips the body with a symbolic capital thanks to which 'investment' into the body is perceived as investment into the quality of life. Today we also observe how the body is gradually becoming a 'commodity' and how it is 'medicalised'. This is a process, which is accompanied by tensions and conflicts. Despite the fact that modern culture is considered to be very liberal, that a 'cult of the body' dominates in it, systems of control over the body (the 'microphysics' of power over body) are more extensive and more deeply hidden than was the case in the past.
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