Re-examining the Notion of Body Image, in Light of Merleau-Ponty
Body image is not simply how we physically look in the mirror. By exploring the work of French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, we understand that indeed, the notion of body image is much more complex and meaningful. In this article, I contend that the media have distorted the notion of body image and instead have reinforced the objectification of the body. From this, I explain why it is important to know and understand that the body should not be reduced to an object because according to Merleau-Ponty, the body is what allows us to experience and connect to the environment that surrounds us. Merleau-Ponty primarily opposes the empiricists and rationalists such as Descartes who hold the view that the body is simply an object and is separate from the mind. The body’s relation to the world and the mind is much more complex and intimate than what the empiricists and rationalists argue. This paper briefly introduces Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological concept of the lived body as presented in his work, The Phenomenology of Perception, explains the relation between the body and perception and finally, addresses the problem of the mind–body dualism.