'Digitized Dysmorphia' of the Female Body: The Re/Disfigurement of the Image

9 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2016

Date Written: July 2016


What has the digitization of female appearances, the altering of female bodies not only in media but individually among the general public through the use of apps, done to human sexual interactions and senses of self? Western society’s booming beauty and sex industries have hyper-sexualised society, over-selling the female image as a currency and commodity of desire. Yet, media no longer has exclusive power over regulating representations of female aesthetics. Nowadays, particularly in Western culture, we can digitally alter ourselves through Photoshop and apps such as Perfect365, producing our own notions of normativity. Not only do we critique our bodies in mirrors, but now we can digitize our dysmorphia by virtually modifying what we dislike, creating “perfect” selves instead. How do these online ideal images affect women’s relationships to their material bodies, do these digital images provide the freedom to express a self that would otherwise be overlooked or simply accentuate the disparity between female bodies and the images women feel they must embody? In positing the new term of “Digitised Dysmorphia”, I question whether transforming oneself into a virtual ideal, manipulating the image, is an act of dissidence, or a demonstration of how fully regulated we are by social norms, whereby digital modifications simply enable us to reach normative ideals. Alternatively, perhaps this enablement irrevocably changes definitions of “normativity” as we alter our relations to the body and image. Ultimately, this article offers an initial exploration into how this digitized dsymorphia affects our perception of self individually and as a collective society. This article is published as part of a collection dedicated to multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives on gender studies.

Suggested Citation

Coy-Dibley, Isabelle, 'Digitized Dysmorphia' of the Female Body: The Re/Disfigurement of the Image (July 2016). Palgrave Communications, Vol. 2, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828637 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2016.40

Isabelle Coy-Dibley (Contact Author)

Frontier Economics Limited

United Kingdom

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