the body

Maybe I’m still thinking about this subject because of my post a few days ago. I realize this is a sensitive subject because our bodies are the most personal of all our possessions (a true Buddhist might say that even our bodies don’t really belong to us, but that’s a subject for another post). But I just wanted to talk briefly about reclaiming the images of our bodies from advertisers and conservative theocracies. I’d like to use a real-life example. At a college nearby, a group of students organized a photography exhibit that portrayed images of their fellow-students in nude and semi-nude poses. The models were both male and female and represented all body types. The photographs were not erotic or in any way sexual. The purpose of the exhibit was to raise the awareness of negative body image, and to counteract the effects of the images of perfection that we are constantly bombarded with in the mass media. I looked around the gallery and I saw beautiful and courageous men and women. I would even say that there was a kind of generosity in the room. These models were giving us a great gift. A gift of freedom and liberation. We know that the human body has been sexualized by advertisers in order to sell us all manner of unnecessary things. Just flip through any issue of Maxim or Cosmopolitan. And we know that the unrealistic images of both men’s and women’s bodies that are foisted on us daily contribute to our feelings of insecurity. But by treating the human body, in all its shapes and sizes, as a work of art, these students, and other artists as well, are teaching us to see the body in a different way. To not equate nudity with sex, like advertisers would want us to do, or to think of the body as sinful, as some theologians have been making us believe for centuries. If we can look upon the human body as mature people and appreciate its beauty in all its forms, then we will have come a long way as human beings. None of us are perfect. We know that when we look in the mirror. But by accepting other people’s imperfections, we will also be able accept our own. Then we can be truly liberated.

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