Social media, body norms, and gendered bodies: The case study of conformity and plausible negotiation with the ideal body image

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Porranee Singpliam


Thai society has witnessed debates centering around body image in many arenas. This paper argues that the media, especially online media, acts as a site for ideological contestation, a site for body norm reproduction, and a site for power struggle. This research examines the recurring body norm, the gendering process of the body, and the negotiation process from social media users. The data gathered from a selected locality consist of written responses from Thai undergraduate students, which reveal normative body images that will later produce materialized and felt impacts upon the individuals’ lives through their experiences. The data that were gathered from the generation Y cohort show that there is a possible negotiation with the hegemonic representation of body ideals in the media – the ideal that fits in the heteronormative genderscape. Such data disclose a new finding in the context of the Thai media. This article looks into three main themes which are the historical traces of the pervasive normative body images, the creation of gendered bodies through hyperreality, and the embodied feelings based on the perceived body images and nonconformity. The research ultimately contemplates further into the politics of representation and how media is a site of power relations which has the ability to discursively shape viable bodies in the society, as well as a site of contestation by youth’s criticism in contemporary Thai settings.


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