From Asceticism to the Modern Diet Society: The Body between Sanctity and Nonentity


This paper analyses — not chronologically, but sociologically — the transition from the age of asceticism, which advises one to eat like a bird in order to perfect the soul, to the modern age, in which the diet society is highlighted. It asserts that this ambivalent and conflictive situation between soul and body creates a collective regime in which the human being is embodied and the body becomes nothing. The body, being beyond all means of liberation, turns into both an unending capital and an abysmal swamp of modernity. Under this regime, the Self reflects upon itself and categorises the body as either skinny or fat. Besides, the exhibitive industrialised visualisation of the Self is unexpectedly blinding. Here, the body disappears as much as it is highlighted. The new style-life formula, which reduces bliss and salvation to the gym, slimming pills and diet programmes, incessantly guides the masses through the medical sciences and, in particular, the media. Every tendency towards achieving absolute beauty and happiness is reborn from its own ashes as a new form of dissatisfaction and leads to endless searching. Through the Mexican film Malos Hábitos (2007), this paper focuses on the dichotomies between physical and spiritual existence, the individual and the social body, hunger and gluttony, mirror and appearance, and desire and dissatisfaction. In this respect, it implicitly offers a critical stance of secular discourses focusing around the concepts of the body and freedom that have often been debated in recent years in Turkey.


Modernity body diet transformation control Malos Hábitos