“Fantastic Bodies and Where to Find Them”: Representational Politics of Queer Bodies in Popular Media

Adharshila Chatterjee

 Assistant Professor of English at Women’s Christian College, Kolkata. Email:

 Volume 8, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v8n3.22

Received April 30, 2016; Revised July 21, 2016; Accepted July 30, 2016; Published August 18, 2016


As we transition into a cybersocial world of infinite ‘glocal’ intersections, much of our perceptions about beauty and body have come to be regulated by the reductive standards of the popular global media, mediated mostly in the US, that seek to gratify specific heterosexist, hypermasculine/ hyperfeminine notions about body image. To create stringently specified standards for men and women is to automatically confine the body into the duality of the masculine and the feminine, thus repressing the self-expression of alternate sexualities and genders. Situating our discourse within the critical paradigm gender performativity, this paper will navigate the processes involved in the visualization and performance of the queer body in Hollywood and American show business and chart the evolution of LGBTQ representations in media. Amidst the pervasive politico-cultural preoccupation with the body, can gender performance through queer bodies truly reach their full potential and self-expressivity, specifically in societies that impose normative regulations and restrictive labels on standards of beauty? Where, then, is the queer, transgendered body situated within the predominantly masculine culture of visual narcissism and cisgender body hysteria? The de-objectification of traditional body images in media, thus, becomes a vital agenda in queer studies. This paper will further interrogate the possibility of a postgender representational mode that can subvert the traditional binaries of the body and accommodate sexual/gender alterities within, what Habermas calls, the “media-steered subsystems”.

Keywords: Queer stereotypes, Hollywood, Non-binary body, Heteronormativity, Gender performance

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