Launch of the Beauty Demands Briefing Paper

The beauty demands briefing paper launches TODAY 9th of June 2016. For a hard-copy please email Ruth Wareham or download a copy here.

The briefing paper will be launched at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics this afternoon. The briefing document is one of the final outputs of the beauty demands network. The Network on “The Changing Requirements of Beauty” is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under a policy highlight notice. The network is a partnership between the academic community and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Academics from many disciplines, including anthropology, cultural theory, history, law, medicine, philosophy, sociology and psychology, have contributed to the network. The network has also included many voices from beyond academia and we have had sessions and contributions from non-academics, including, artists, curators, doctors, journalists, nurses, psychiatrists and surgeons. The network was built around four workshops which have taken place over the last two years:

·         Changing understandings of body image (March 2015)

·         Professionals, practitioners and beauty norms(June 2015)

·         Globalisation of beauty (Oct 2015)

·         Routine maintenance and exceptional procedures (March 2016)

The briefing paper focuses on the most policy-relevant aspects of the discussions of the network. What beauty demands adds to other recent interventions and recommendations is its multidisciplinary and broad focus. It emphasises social and cultural concerns, and recognises the pressures of visual culture and the importance of appearance for identity. The briefing paper is divided into three sections. It focuses on ethical concerns, psychological concerns and governance, regulatory, and legal issues which are policy-relevant. Its aim is to be accessible and useful to policy-makers and to those who practice and/or engage with beauty practices and procedures. Central to the beauty demands briefing document are the recommendations it makes in each section.

The key recommendations are:

• To recognise that ‘normal’ is a value judgment and not a neutral or descriptive term;

• To improve understandings and representations of ‘normal bodies’;

• To recognise that consent might be compromised by pressures to conform;

• To recognise the potential for vulnerability in the beauty context;

• To develop effective interventions that promote positive body images in school curricula at all ages;

• To develop media literacy in school curricula and for the wider public;

• To promote diversity of models and mannequin sizes and shapes;

• To standardise training and qualifications required to administer so-called non-invasive procedures and cosmetic surgery;

• To set minimum standards for products and premises;

• To ensure that informed consent is sought personally by the practitioner carrying out the procedure, for all so-called non-invasive procedures as well as surgical procedures;

• To separate roles of salespersons and advertisers from practitioners performing procedures;

• To consider changing practice and policy with regard to advertisements to reduce risk of unrealistic expectations

• To put in place processes for better data collection

The briefing paper draws on the collective insights of members of the Beauty Demands Network. It is a collective response which is intended to be broadly representative of the main policy-relevant issues which have emerged during workshops and from contributions to the blog. They are not the views of any particular individual and individual members may not endorse any or all of these recommendations.

Please note, while the AHRC-funded network will finish at the end of June, the Beauty Demands network will continue as a resource for future research and as an on-going community of researchers and those interested in the demands of beauty. If you are not a member and would like to be join now please visit the 'Join Our Network !' page of the blog and complete the on-line form. If you would like to contribute to the debate with a blog post please email 


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