the risk of body politics

Having completed experiment 1 and 2, I know what type of project I hope to do next, but I’m not exactly sure about the content. After meeting with Ray before experiment 2, we discussed the ways in which I’ve “looked outward,” critiquing a capitalist system’s influence on body positivity. That was a more formal, objective piece, so I decided to write a personal essay for experiment 2 to, instead, “look inward.” I was able to examine my own connections to the body positivity movement. So, after experiment 2, I feel ready to look outward again, but not as far away as I did the first time. I want to explore other people’s personal and political ties to the movement. I hope to combine some elements of each previous experience, like wide societal critiques and the role of personal identities, in experiment 3. This seems like the most natural path to take after my earlier projects, and I think it will be beneficial in connecting with members of the body positivity community and the larger community. However, thinking about interviewing others highlights the unpredictable results of asking the “risky” questions about my topic.

I’m genuinely curious in hearing others’ thoughts on the movement as a whole, and I think interviewing a variety of people would help me to better understand body positivity in the modern context. The risky questions, however, may not be questions subjects can easily answer or ones they even want to answer. Since so much of body positivity is centered around identity, I hope to interview people with different, intersecting identities. Anything involving others’ identities needs to be conducted carefully and thoughtfully, so as to avoid causing harm and create a safe environment. While I don’t foresee a problem in my own ability to ensure an inclusive environment and listen to the subjects’ needs, some of my questions are personal and tricky, so I want to make sure I phrase them the best way possible. Some of the initial questions I wrote down in class were “‘Who is body positivity for? How should people with conventional bodies (white, thin, able-bodied, gender conforming) participate in body positivity? Do they need it?’, ‘How effective is Body Positivity, realistically? Is there any hope to make actual change with this movement? Or is it time to move on?’, and ‘How do we all contribute to the harmful aspects of Body Positivity?’” These topics are tricky because they are loaded with personal and political answering potential, and everyone may have completely different thoughts. These are also questions that are most pressing within the body positivity community now, and although I have my own opinions, I feel the need to hear others since it is relevant to more people than just me, and my own experiences cannot account for everyone. In addition, I feel like my research thus far has lacked an interpersonal component that connects me to other individuals and pants a representative image of the movement, so I’m looking forward to incorporating interviews into experiment 3.

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