Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bodily Perfection as New Religion?

Religion Dispatches includes an interesting article by Jeremy Biles titled "I Want a Perfect Body: Is Plastic Surgery a Religious Rite of Passage?". With America's obsession over the body in a never ending quest for "beauty" this article raises interesting food for thought:
"Though it may be a global phenomenon, the roots of this fixation on the body may lie partly in American religion. We need only think of America's many corporeal obsessions, from dieting, to fitness crazes, to cosmetic surgery, to begin to suspect that beliefs and commitments at the very heart of American culture are at work here. Harvard's R. Marie Griffith argues that religion, specifically Protestant forms of Christianity, has been a key influence on the conception and creation of American bodies. Protestant ascetic expressions of Christianity, Griffith argues, promote what she calls "corporeal acts of devotion." Griffith traces shifting Christian conceptions of embodiment from these early modern Protestant roots through Christian Scientism and the New Thought Movement. The emphasis on manifesting the inner, spiritual self through disciplines shaping the outer, physical self has thrust the body to the forefront of the American imagination."

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