Showing posts from December, 2015

Reflections on the 3rd Beauty Demands Workshop: ‘What Does Beauty Have to do with Politics?’

In this post, Doctoral Researcher Alice el-Wakil (University of Zurich / Centre for Democracy Studies Aarau (ZDA)) shares her reflections on the 3 rd Beauty Demands Workshop and considers the question, ‘what does beauty have to do with politics?’ Discussions about beauty norms are often considered superficial, little worthy of attention except in tabloid magazines. [1] When I started working on beauty from a political theory perspective, friends and relatives actually acted quite surprised: ‘What does beauty have to do with politics?’ The various contributors to the 3rd Beauty Demands Workshop  offered valuable insights to start answering this question. They suggested that our beauty ideals and practices have played a role in shaping the way in which we live collectively. In this post, I want to rely on the papers presented and the discussions that took place during the workshop in Birmingham in order to highlight three ways in which beauty and politics are interrelated.

Beauty Norms, Children and the Ethics of Early Influence

In this post, our new Research Network Administrator, Ruth Wareham, discusses how her research interests in the philosophy of education fit with the issues being considered as part of the Beauty Demands Project. I am hugely excited to be working as the Research Network Administrator for the Beauty Demands project. Although my own philosophical work has never dealt directly with issues relating to cosmetic enhancement or perfectionism (at least, not in the sense of a moral imperative to improve or maintain the way we look), much of my previous research has revolved around the topic of autonomy and the idea that individuals should be granted the freedom to live their lives “from the inside” (See, for example, Colburn, 2010, p.41); to decide what constitutes the ‘Good life’ from their own perspective. Given my philosophical preoccupation with the limits which ought to be set on (or may necessarily restrict) freedom of choice, the work being undertaken by the Beauty Dema

Variations on a beauty theme: The uses of ‘normal’

In this post, our Principal Investigator, Heather Widdows, considers the concept of normality in the context of the beauty debate. The current beauty ideal is becoming more dominant and narrower and it is harder to resist and reject. This makes it difficult to regard the ‘choices’ we make with regard to beauty as ‘free choice’ ( See here ). I’ve demonstrated this using the example of the increasing demands of body hair removal . Taken together I argue that the beauty ideal demands more; it applies to more types of women, for longer and is global (see my last post). In this post I want to focus on the various ways in which ‘normal’ functions in the beauty debate. The concept of ‘normal’ and how it is interpreted, perceived and used in the beauty debate has emerged as a key ethical concern in all of the Beauty Demands workshops (and from across academic disciplines). Some of these ways are overtly normative, and others are apparently neutral but carry hidden normative a