The article addresses how popular imageries of ideal body types and their circulation inspires the construction of similar body ideals to be achieved through body work, body care and body control. While demonstrating a composite relationship between the ‘image’ and the ‘body’, it renders the interdependency and inseparability of these two entities, capturing the dual process of consuming images of the ideal body and transforming body into images for consumption.
The article also advances a theoretical model of image–body unification in contemporary India. Citing a wide range of visual representations of the body/image, the article illustrates how the imageries of the ideal body type are often negotiated through body work, and how the worked-out body is then converted to similar body-image for circulation, thereby creating replicas of predominant ideal types and inspiring the production of bodies and images that are identical to that type.
The article situates such practices of image production, circulation and emulation within the larger context of greater levels of tolerance, acceptance and dissemination of the eroticised body. It is argued that the acceptance of the eroticised body as lifestyle choice is an integral part of a larger global visual trend. The erosion of the stigma against representation of the body as a legitimate site of pleasure determines our temporal identities by inviting us to participate in the articulation of the desiring self through image-conscious bodies and through images that make the body more desirable.