Body Language: Sisters in Shape, Black Women's Fitness, and by Kimberly J. Lau

By Kimberly J. Lau

In her evocative ethnographic examine, physique Language, Kimberly Lau lines the a number of ways that the good fortune of an cutting edge health software illuminates what id potential to its Black girl customers and the way their workforce interplay offers a brand new viewpoint on feminist theories of id politics--especially concerning the importance of identification to political activism and social swap. Sisters healthy, Inc., health specialists (SIS), a Philadelphia corporation, promotes stability in actual, psychological, and non secular wellbeing and fitness. Its application is going past exercises, because it educates and motivates girls to make future health and health a concern. Discussing the hindrances at domestic and the significance of the group's harmony to their skill to stick thinking about their objectives, the ladies converse to the ways that their dedication to reshaping their our bodies is a dedication to an alternate destiny. physique Language indicates how the group's explorations of black women's id open new percentages for identity-based claims to attractiveness, justice, and social switch.

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Extra info for Body Language: Sisters in Shape, Black Women's Fitness, and Feminist Identity Politics

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Sisters in Shape’s multiple black womanhoods, through which they resist the hegemonic and singular category of black women even as they maintain the relevance of this identity category, lead to unique standpoints that demand black women’s social recognition and political visibility. In Chapter 4, “New Bodies of Knowledge,” I investigate the ways that the Sisters in Shape women’s embodied experiences and their identity performances reinvigorate black feminist standpoint theory (and thus standpoint theory more generally) by pushing it beyond its origins in the presumption of a stable black women’s identity and set of shared experiences.

Messner capture the complexity at the center of such questions by highlighting both the potentially liberating aspects of women’s participation in sport and the ways that media representations limit such potential through a commodified feminism, a corporate sense of empowerment, and hegemonic standards of femininity (1999). In Bodymakers: A Cultural Anatomy of Women’s Bodybuilding, Heywood similarly zeroes in on the issues at stake when she asks, “Will images of strong women help women in general be strong?

Mohanty anticipates this point in his theorization of the “epistemic status of cultural identity” (1993). By emphasizing the cognitive nature of experiences for identity in particular—that is, the ways that experiences are always subjected to critical assessment, reinterpretation, and reevaluation within both individual and social contexts—he, like Kruks, foregrounds the fact that experiences can “serve as sources of objective knowledge or socially produced mystification” (51). For both Kruks and Mohanty, attending to the processes by which experiences are socially and discursively constructed enables a historicist approach to the production of cultural identity while acknowledging the foundational effects of experience.

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