I Am My Body: Objectification, Empowering Embodiment, and Physical Activity in Women’s Studies Students’ Accounts

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Satu Liimakka University of Helsinki

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Drawing on Merleau-Ponty and Bourdieu, this article explores corporeal ways to modify the somewhat anxiety-filled bodily habit(us) of many young women. The article is based on accounts of body experience written by Finnish women’s studies students. In the article, I demonstrate how experiences of overcoming the mind/body dichotomy and connecting the body with the surrounding world disrupted the young women’s habitual experience of an alienated body. I argue that a corporeal agency that arises within physical actions and situations can modify a troublesome habit(us) and enable a young woman to transform her habitual self-body-world relation. Moreover, I discuss how physical activity can facilitate empowering body experiences.

Liimakka is with the Department of Social Research, Social Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

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