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African Anthropologist

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The Politics and Economics of Body Image and Sexuality in Africa: Thoughts from a Path Less Travelled

RA Odhiambo, AM Ocholla

Abstract


Body image is internal and external. It is seen by ourselves and by others. Social body image constructs seem to be built on what is deemed to be beautiful within our cultural contexts, which in turn is perceived as valuable and in turn has higher social standing because everyone else looks up to it. The politics of body image is often a ‘black and white’ affair, without much room for manoeuvring. You are either the strong male or the weaker female. Together with the outward appearance, the sexualities of the bodies must also complement each other. But it is a semi-artificial construct which not all people can adhere to, much less attain, though they all try. What happens then with women or men who defy these constructs of body image and sexuality – who turn them on their head? How does the society adjust to these kinds of individuals in its already defined and constructed political arena? This article seeks to expose the lived realities of persons who fail to conform to the expectations of the society, namely sexual and gender minorities.




AJOL African Journals Online