We’ve spent a bit of time this week looking through a few blogs that follow people’s journeys to body building competitions. The blog entries are full of fat tracing, carb shredding, and mentions of dizziness; of 1000 calorie consumptions, low energy, and all the extremes that make up the journey to drastically alter one’s shape and appearance.
Their poses on competition days are unnatural, full of thigh tensing and parading around. They are extremely tanned, oompa loompa orange, or look like they bathed in turmeric. To see someone transform their body, to sculpt it into a muscular creation, is incredible. The perfection of their bodies is in a way grotesque, hyper-muscular, unreal.
Bodybuilders exemplify the human drive to master the body, they embark on a gruelling exercise and diet plan, to preen and polish and starve and spray their way to someone’s idea of a ‘prize winning’ body. Bodybuilders are just one example of our bodies capacity to transform. Our bodies are morphing and growing. They are full of the potential for transformation, from gender to procreation to growth, our bodies negotiate them all. But our bodies can also entrap us, we grow and age, face disease and illness, recover from injury and live with disability.
In this week’s issue, we have some incredible pieces. We’ve got a beloved writer Sharon Lam, returning once again, putting her body on the line for Salient. She explored the world of hands-free orgasms and, boy, what a world it was. This exploration is a very psychological (read: funny) exploration of the connection between body and mind.
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We also had an amazing team of Melbourne based talent who created a photo essay looking into the experience of eczema. The accompanying writing shows how bits of our body wind up impacting our day to day, and draws out the slow burn of skin irritations.
Charlie has delved into the world of trans healthcare; a world which is fraught with obstacles, a lack of institutional knowledge, and awkward misunderstandings of the trans-experience.
Bronwyn has considered the ways in which some bodies can move around our university space without a second thought, and the ways in which some bodies are hindered.
Our bodies show our stories—whatever colour, whatever complexion. There are scars, blemishes, rashes, birthmarks, age spots. The shapes and sizes that our bodies take on are both controlled and uncontrollable, they are forever celebrated across a dove ad and silenced in a lingerie ad.
The idiosyncrasies of our bodies are never really tell-able: the way your knees are really knobbly, the way you fingers are double jointed, the way your legs stopped working, and the way your teeth grew crooked. Our bodies get broken and bent, they get scanned for secrets, and judged for their worth. We reveal our bodies to some and hide them from others.
The rights to our bodies are challenged, from legal obstacles and medical restrictions to the day to day expectations of what one should and shouldn’t wear, do, and be.
Our bodies aren’t just a thing we live in, they’re representative, they’re individual and universal. These bodies change, these bodies are defiant, these bodies are divergent, these bodies are ours. We are the sum of all of our parts and our body is part of the equation.