There is such a thing as an ethics of the beauty salon

Recent reports in the UK have raised worrying questions about the regulation of the beauty industry, whether it be the treatment of under-18s or the inadequate levels of care when removing moles and lesions. In 2016, Eline Bunnik wrote about how in the Netherlands these questions were already being taken seriously,  with the development of national ethical guidelines for beauticians. (This work was published as an article in Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics in 2018

Eline Bunnik (Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam) reflects on her work (with Frans Meulenberg & Inez de Beaufort) on a range of ethical issues related to beauty salons and beauticians in the Netherlands.

Worldwide, beauticians are progressively employing equipment and compounds that pervade more deeply into the skin, such as IPL/laser or chemical peelings. Present-day skin treatments aimed at hair removal, skin rejuvenation or therapeutic options for skin problems such as…

How the duty to be beautiful is making young girls feel like failures

You may have read the recent Observer article about how "the 'tweaked' look is becoming the new normal" - Heather Widdows was writing about this back in 2017 with a post that has only become more relevant with time.

A booming beauty industry is changing the way we see our bodies. (Shutterstock)Heather Widdows, University of Birmingham
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

From the daily application of high-tech lotions and potions to non-surgical procedures such as botox, fillers and peels, the beauty industry is booming like never before.With more products and treatments available there is also a growing pressure around how people feel they “should” or “shouldn’t” look. So whether it’s fake eyelashes, tattooed eyebrows, manicured nails, body waxing or lip fillers, the chances are we all know someone who has these – and often we view these types of treatments as “normal”.

The sociologist Dana Berkowitz, has poi…

(De)Constructing Body Positivity on Twitter - By Emilie Lawrence

Our Beauty Demands blog is 5 years old this year! We have had many brilliant posts over those years, so we're going to revisit some of these, starting with the ever-important topic of social media. Below is Emilie Lawrence's discussion on body positivity, which introduces a paper she presented at our workshop back in 2016: 

In this post, Emilie Lawrence (UCL) discusses her work on body positivity discourse as it plays out on social media.
The paper I am presenting at the forthcoming Beauty Demands workshop explores social media sites as platforms for creating networked communities (Papacharissi, 2010, 2011 & 2012) notions of the performative body (Butler, 1988) and embodied subjectivity (Braidotti, 2013.) I will explore body positive feminism ( an emerging form of online and offline activism stemming from Love Your Body (LYB) discourse, ‘positive, affirmative, seemingly feminist-inflected media messages, targeted exclusively at girls and women, that exhort us to believe we…

Be Ashamed of Body Shaming

Feeling ashamed of how we look has become normal. Hardly any of us think we make the beauty grade. We might even think there is something odd with someone who is perfectly happy with how they look. For some this anxiety is low level and periodic – a bad hair day once in a while, or a fleeting thought that we wish we could lose a few pounds when we glance in the mirror. For others it is overwhelming and almost constant, a deep shame which stops us doing all kinds of things. In the Girls’ Attitudes survey 2016conducted by Girl Guiding UK, “47% of girls aged 11–21 say the way they look holds them back”. This is nearly half of young women who are willing to admit that how they look limits what they can do.
The list of where we fail, and what we feel ashamed of is almost endless. It is hard to find a body part which can’t be thought of as failing, and flaws - perceived flaws – can be found in every body. No matter how much you might fit the ideal, flaws can be found. Selena Gomez, who was …

No Going Back after the First Pluck?

Outside Hirsutism1 and at times pubic hair2, societal perceptions of women’s bodies include an absence of hair3, as we know female beauty and normative femininity is still overall represented and perceived through a hairless appearance. Representations overarchingly continuing to construct and maintain an image of a ‘fuzz free’ look as natural for women (Jenkins, 2017; Smelik, 2015; Fahs and Delgardo, 2011), and hair outside what should softly cascade from our scalps, as the invader to be plucked, waxed, shaved, bleached and/or lasered off. 

Accordingly, even as representations of hairlessness are brought into question in the UK and elsewhere, with female celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Amber Rose and Madonna publicly embracing their body hair, hair removal products and methods continue to boom. 

For the BSA (British South Asian) women I interviewed in Birmingham4, the mundane and routine act of hair removal that often starts in adolescence, is positioned as requiring continuous and dedic…

Good Girls and Dutiful Wives: The impact of Protestant femininities on sufferers of anorexia

The very term ‘Protestant femininity' could be considered a misnomer: ‘Protestant’ covers a wide spectrum of traditions; and Christian traditions tend not to theorise over constructed femininities, preferring – particularly those of a more conservative leaning – to understand woman as a stable concept with only one model.Nonetheless, I argue that there has emerged from the more conservative Protestant churches in Western culture, a construction of ‘ideal femininity’. In my research with Christian women who have suffered from anorexia, it has become apparent that this ideal’s expectations have contributed to their illness.
Two memoirs of eating disorders offer a perspective on the Protestant feminine ideal and its relation to weight and food: Jo Ind writes of her compulsive eating disorder (Fat is a Spiritual Issue) and Emma Scrivener recounts her experience of anorexia (A New Name). Both women express the difficulty they had surrounding their own identity, the expectations of bei…

Females During a Time of Change: A Closer Look at Beauty in the Lebanese October 2019 Revolution

Author’s note: I initially wanted to write about my aging self and the attitude people in Lebanon have towards my reluctance to follow the social norms of body and facial maintenance, but as I began to write my piece for the blog, the Lebanese people took to the streets in revolt against a corrupt government which has made life in Lebanon unbearable. The revolution began October 17th 2019, and as of yet seems to be non-ending. I have spent all this time watching the females of my country (all ages) take to the streets and challenge norms; thus, I was motivated to change the direction of my piece.
Beauty. A word that has layers of meanings. It is a word that has been used for centuries denoting the expectations of a female’s physical appearance. Even in some cases it has been used to imply the actions of a female as in the adage “beauty is as beauty does”. But what does any of this actually mean? I am a 56-year-old woman. I am a university professor and my area of study is dance. Somet…