Heather Widdows on 'Why Beauty Matters'

Professor Heather Widdows is speaking at a conference on Gender Justice at Birmingham University on Thursday morning on 'Why Beauty Matters'. Her talk will consider why beauty matters, to philosophy, to ethics and for global justice. It will discuss the dominance of the contemporary ideal of beauty – of thinness, smoothness and youth – and explain why this is a topic to which philosophers should pay attention. It will highlight the moral nature of the beauty debate – signalled by words like ‘worth’, ‘ought’ and ‘deserve’ and in encouragements to be ‘your best self’ and ‘the real you’. It will argue that the contemporary beauty ideal is more dominant than previous ideals in that it applies to more people, it starts earlier and continues later and it is increasingly global. It will argue that as the demands of the beauty ideal increase, and ‘normal’ becomes harder to attain, beauty becomes more important for global justice theorising. Beauty concerns which speak to the global gender justice debate include: the commodification of women’s bodies; gender subordination and the need to pay attention to how structural gender injustice is manifested and replicated; the connections between individual choices and communal goods; and importantly, the burning question of how change can be realised.

If you wish to attend this talk, or any other talk in the conference, or the public discussion and debate about women's rights (5.30 Thursday 21 May) then email Scott Wisor (s.l.wisor@bham.ac.uk) to register - there are still some spaces. Other people speaking at the conference are Corwin Aragon (Concordia), Elisabetta Aurino, Christine Bratu (Munich), Monique Deveaux (Guelph), Alison Jaggar (Birmingham/Colarado), Nicola Jones (Overseas Development Institute), Sheelagh McGuinness (Birmingham), Sarah Clark Miller (Penn State), Bijayalaxmi Nanda (Delhi) Noa Nogradi (Leeds), Angie Pepper (York) and Leif Wenar (King’s College London). For further details on 'Global Gender Justice: New Directions' please visit http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/globalethics/events/2015/global-gender.aspx.

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