Habitus, Post-Structuralism, Frankfurt School?

If this isn’t a sign of the times, I don’t know what is. Sadly I don’t know what I’m more astonished at: an eye brow shaping booth or the fact that it’s only 10 dollars?!

I think there are many ways to interpret this image through Soc. Theory concepts we have covered to date. For example, one could look at this as part of the “totally administered society” we see in the Frankfurt School. There is no room for individuality, no need to protest when we are consumed by false needs such as eyebrow shaping, which ultimately convince us we have a piece of the “good life” for only 10 dollars!

Others could view this image as symbolic of post-structuralism ideals. They would say we aren’t any smarter than past generations, we still do stupid things just in different forms. In this case, social formation shapes our lives by emphasizing self identity, consumer-capitalism, and constant regulation of body awareness.

For me, however, this image instantly made me think of Lisa Wade’s habitus, and how eye brow shaping is just a recent type of embodied capital which our society prioritizes in this day and age. It directly relates to how we reproduce class and inequality in this society by either embracing our habitus or, as Professor Wade would say, fighting against it to produce a different image in the eyes of others. I’m sure there are many people in this world who do regularly get their eyebrows shaped, but I’m also sure there are just as many who are disgusted by the thought. Depending on your background and social class, one can either encourage their habitus or go against it through embodiment capital. Eye brow shaping is just one way of doing this.

What do you guys think? What comes to mind when you see this image??

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3 thoughts on “Habitus, Post-Structuralism, Frankfurt School?

  1. Eyebrow threading is not a new practice. Although it has recently gained popularity in the Western World, it has been a common practice in the Middle East and Arab World for many centuries. Amongst Iranians, it was usually done for women who were getting married or for a special occasion. In Persian cultures it was a sign that a girl was becoming a woman. Although the practice was originally an Eastern one, it hardly falls under the "grand theory of progress" model. I think that it merely goes to show that there have always been practices like this in order to make people's bodily capital more appealing- ie the ancient Egyptians wearing make-up. I think that we need to take a good look at the history of these types practices in order to understand their current place in society. Yes, we don't need to have our eye-brows done-which makes it a false need, but how long have false needs been around? Maybe a lot longer than the Frankfurt School takes notice of.

    • Thank you for the information. I did not know much of that. I also firmly agree with you that false needs have certainly been around for quite a long time, however there is no question in mind that as consumer capitalism has grown, the desire and availability of these false needs has increased as well. I think it is very telling that a distant, Middle Eastern cultural practice can now be found at mini-malls in greater Los Angeles. No matter whether your personal background, history, or culture encourages eye brow shaping or completely admonishes it, I believe Wade would argue that a person who does receive eye brow shaping is either fitting their habitus or fighting against it in some way.

  2. I believe that you are correct with the idea of fitting to the habitus. Personally, I go threading once in two weeks. I go due to the culture industry and the peer pressure I get from the outside world. Every friend of mine is doing it, so I participate in this false needs and am cultivating in the culture industry. Also, I can add the Looking Glass Self concept by Cooley. I participate in threading my eyebrows ( the “Me”) for the “I” or for the others out there who will see my face. The three aspects of identity could be applied. 1). How actors imagine they appear. I would like to think after threading my eyebrows that I look great. 2). How actors believe others judge them. I would like to think after threading the outsiders would think my eyebrows look great. 3). How actors develop feelings of shame. When my eyebrows look good after threading, my friends compliment it and this evaluation enhances my self concept which encourages me to go threading more.

    I get my threading done for about $22 with tip, and this $10 threading is definitely cheap! It does create customers to want to spend their time and money at this store because of the cheap price compared to other stores.

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