Intact: A Defence of the Unmodified Body

Clare Chambers

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I am now thinking afresh about how I live in my own body, in a world where, as Clare Chambers argues, nobody’s body is ever allowed to be good enough, just as it is’ Timandra HarknessWhat would it take for your body to be good enough?The pressure to change our bodies is overwhelming. We strive to defy ageing, build our biceps, cure our disabilities, conceal our quirks. Surrounded by filtered photos and surgically-enhanced features, we must contort our physical selves to prejudiced standards of beauty.

Perfection is impossible, and even an acceptable body seems out of reach. In this mind-expanding book, Cambridge philosopher Clare Chambers argues that the unmodified body is a key political principle. While defending our right to change our bodies, she argues that the social pressures to modify undermine equality.

She shows how the connected ideas of the natural body, the normal body, and the whole body have been used both to disrupt and to maintain social hierarchies – sometimes oppressing, other times liberating. The body becomes a site of political importance: a place where hierarchies of sex, gender, race, disability, age, and class are reinforced. Through a thought-provoking analysis of the power dynamics that structure our society, and with examples ranging widely from bodybuilding to breast implants, deafness to male circumcision, Intact stresses that we must break away from the oppressive forces that demand we alter our bodies.

Instead, it offers a bold, transformative vision of the human body that is equal without expectation.

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