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“I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament.” - Alanis Morissette


This topic is particularly relevant for performance artists, how we feel in our bodies can influence how we present work and the choices we make. For this week, I’d like to take an honest look at our own personal body image as it relates to making creative work and be ready to discuss how we view and care for our bodies, the creative choices our viewpoint leads us to make, and “how we view ourselves” effects our emotional health as artists.

My Answer:

I find that there are many factors relating to body image that influence how I make work… I hear my self often saying things like: I don’t look good in that position, or I cannot move like that, or I’m not comfortable doing XYZ because of how it looks when I do it. Sometimes I feel like I may not look the way I think I should look in a costume, so I’ll revise the character to feel more comfortable. This all has to do with how I view myself in comparison to a standard that someone else has set for me (intentionally or unintentionally).

Thoughts and Actions:

Art that we make with our body is generally concerned with larger topics than “decor” … issues of gender, personal identity, and value (worth). 

In some work, the body is seen as the vehicle for language. We may also call this expression.

“Body Image” can be described as the way one views his or her body, how he or she believes to be perceived by others.

Body image weighs heavily on the performance artist, as the body is the tool for presentation. Not only are we concerned with size, shape, and societal conformity… we are also concerned with its ability to perform - strength, flexibility, motor control, etc… It must become a well oiled machine as well as (in the case of being an entertainer) a decoration.

In the case of the professional artist, everything is expected to be “aspirational” - which is an elusive, unfair, unattainable goal.

Unfortunately, our culture has become obsessed with an “ideal” image. We have let the beauty industry and corporate America define reality for us… and encouraging body hatred is an extremely lucrative business. But there are more valid and healthy ways to define beauty and reality. We must educate ourselves to recognize that advertising is not a slice of reality. We need to quit giving other people permission to define who we are and what we are worth. We need to begin to see healthy bodies as the ideal, and we need to make clear that good health is not defined by size; it is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.

Dysmorphia and Dysmorphic Disorder

Dysmorphia is a deformity or abnormality in the shape or size of a specified part of the body. Ie, ”muscle dysmorphia"

Dysmorphic Disorder is an obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. The flaw may be minor or imagined. But the person may spend hours a day trying to fix it. It often results in negatively effecting the quality of their life.

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