From Marilyn Monroe to the Spice Girls, from Grover Cleveland to President Clinton, to one's naked form reflected in the mirror each morning, Americans are taught to read bodies as symbols displaying and revealing hidden "truths" about the individual and his or her behaviours. Any discussion of the body becomes complex and muddled as one tries to analyze how and why certain body types are attributed certain meanings. This text looks at body relationships, examining American historical and contemporary social constructions of the body. It seeks to allow readers to explore interrelationships between the individualized and the culturally produced nature of the body. The book investigates many provocative subjects, including cyborg cinema as exemplified by "Star Trek" and "The Terminator"; Madonna and Michael Jordan; sex and advertising; the body on the World Wide Web; the pressure of the media on the female body; disabled bodies; and weight consciousness.
Jessica Johnston is a lecturer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand where she teaches courses on contemporary American culture, deviance in America, power and knowledge in corporate America, and issues of identity and qualitative methodologies.