This is a book about embodiment and identity in the context of particular women's lives in an urban setting. It is concerned with the development of a sociology of embodiment in the context of women's lives in contemporary, urban India. The focus on embodiment is mediated by gender and class, two critical elements that constitute identity in relation to embodiment. The study is based on material collected from interviews with working class women in an urban slum and with professional, upper class women, with young women in secondary schools and from material from a women's magazine. Apart from theoretical considerations, the book gives centrality to women's voice in the construction of her identity as an embodied being, located in particular socio-economic settings in urban India. The book also attempts to provide an understanding of resistance in the context of women's lives, both as a conceptual tool and a strategy in everyday life.
Chapter 3: Embodiment and Womanhood in Femina
Embodiment and Womanhood in Femina
I am concerned, in this chapter, with the question of how body images serve to construct womanhood through the medium of visual imagery and textual discourse in women's magazines.1 Images of women however do not only construct womanhood or femininity but are also seen in a social, political and economic context. In other words, ‘they always have a specific use value in the particular time and place of their consumption… [and] they also have exchange value: they circulate as commodities in a social/economic system. This further conditions, or overdetermines, the meanings available from representations’ (Kuhn 1996: 53). Through visual and textual images, then, women not only receive messages about themselves as embodied, feminine beings but also ...