Our bodies are what allows us to navigate through the world, day in and day out. To understand our bodies, we must understand what bodylore is. According to Amy Milligan, “Bodylore includes the ways in which the body is used as a canvas for inherited and chosen identity. Bodylore considers the symbolic inventory of dress and hair, addressing a range of identities from conservative religious groups like the Amish and the Hasidim to edgy goth and punk devotees. The body is scripted in portrayals of race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, and politics, including such topics as tattoos, piercing, scarification, hair covering and styling, traditional and folk dress, fashion, and body modification” (1, Milligan).

The result of being different people living in the same world but coming from different backgrounds and having different career paths determines how we see ourselves and how the world sees each of us as individuals.

Growing up, learning about my body was a journey. I struggled with body image and self-esteem as I was transitioning into my teenage years. According to Office of Womens Health, “Your body image is what you think and how you feel when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind” (womenshealth.gov). As a child, I was obsessed with being a girly girl and I loved looking at myself in the mirror. As I got older, the image that I had of myself shifted when I was able to comprehend what the ideal beauty standards were. I remember a time where one of my uncles, whom I do not interact with anymore, made a point to tell me I was too big for an nine-year-old. I have always been on the thicker side of the spectrum; however, I do not believe it was appropriate of my uncle to make remarks about my weight as a child. Since then, how I have viewed myself has been centered around appearance. I feel like even on my chill days, I still need to maintain a certain image. On the other hand, the women in my life have always been uplifting and positive when talking about bodies. My mom in particular made it her business to tell me I was beautiful any time she could. She also instilled in me to be beyond what I looked like and to focus on the inside. One of my mom’s favorite things to say is, “looks aren’t everything.”

As a communications student and a soon to be a communications professional, what I bring to the table is very important including my knowledge and skills, but also my body. My body is my brand and how I carry myself is important. Dealing with communications means talking and writing often. This means that my actual body has to be used in order to complete certain tasks. Within the communications field, I want to be successful at advertising and social media marketing which means I have to be knowledgeable of a lot of things as well as having developed thinking and writing skills. In addition to the things I will be doing, I also need to look presentable to anyone who may be looking at me. It would be inappropriate for me to show up to work in sweatpants and a hoodie because my work environment is supposed to be professional. As a communications professional, it is crucial to have established credibility so people will trust what you are doing or saying is true and how you look determines your first impression.

To add to my ideal career path, it also important to know and understand some of my overlapping identities that can and will affect how my body is perceived, also known as intersectionality. According to Rosa Aleman on the YW Boston website“Intersectionality is a framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people, or social problem as affected by a number of discriminations and disadvantages. It takes into account people’s overlapping identities and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face” (Aleman, Rosa). I identify with being a black, heterosexual, female. The intersection of my race and gender will be received different because I am amongst groups that sit of the latter part of the privilege scale. Being black is hard because you become a walking target for no other reason than the color of your skin. As a female, we are just seen as less than and having no power. Having awareness of some of the groups I am a part of and some of my real-life experiences gives me more insight to how I will be received by the world and my profession.

References

Alemán, Rosa. “What Is Intersectionality, and What Does It Have to Do with Me?” YW Boston,   2 Aug. 2019, www.ywboston.org/2017/03/what-is-intersectionality-and-what-does-it- have-to-do-with-me/.

“Communication – Importance of Good Communication Skills.” Corporate Finance Institute, corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/soft-skills/communication/.

“Body Image.” Womenshealth.gov, 27 Mar. 2019, www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/body- image-and-mental-health/body-image.

Iozzio, Corinne. “Scientists Prove That Telepathic Communication Is Within Reach.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 2 Oct. 2014, www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/scientists-prove-that-telepathic-communication-is-within-reach-180952868/.

Milligan, Amy K. “American Bodylore and Folk Dress.” The Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies, 2018, pp. 451–469., doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190840617.013.20.


Yvonnia Bryant is a 21 year old senior at Old Dominion University finishing up her last semester as an undergraduate student. She is majoring in Communications, minoring in Women’s Studies. In her free time, Yvonnia has a podcast (Melanated Queens), is a LEC tutor, and is a part of the Old Dominion chapter of Queen In You where serves on the E-board as an events planner.