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Showing posts from 2018

Dying For a Tan:The Case for Prohibiting the Use of Commercial Sunbeds

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From the 1920’s onwards, tanning was seen as aspirational.   It spoke of foreign holidays and the lifestyle of the rich and famous. It was a matter of “looking good” and “looking well”.  The growth of the domestic tanning industry followed and tanning salons became common in the high street and in the health club.  However, over time concerns began to arise due to the health risks of sunbeds and in particular the link with skin cancer.

In 2006, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published the first report by experts on sunbed use and its association with skin cancer or melanoma.   This meta-analysis of 19 studies of associations between the use of sunbeds and the risk of melanoma showed an increase of 15% in the risk of melanoma  amongst those who had used a sunbed compared to those who had not.  Subsequently the IARC added UV-emitting tanning devices to its list of group 1 carcinogens (‘carcinogenic to humans’), with evidence that …

Cosmetic surgery: Knowing your rights if something goes wrong

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There is a great deal of confusion that surrounds the aesthetic industry and what procedures within it are subject to regulation. As the popularity of cosmetic procedures, such as breast augmentation and rhinoplasty, continues to rise in the UK, so too do the number of complaints and the volume of incidents involving risky practices and untrained or inexperienced practitioners.
If you look up ‘cosmetic surgery’ on the internet, the results are crowded with 0% finance deals and 2-4-1 offers, encouraging individuals to commit quickly to potentially life-changing, and life-threatening, procedures. At the same time, the news is littered with tales of celebrities and everyday people who’ve undergone botched surgeries or have had painful reactions to poorly administered Botox or dermal fillers.
There is a great deal of societal pressure, particularly on women - who still have the vast majority of surgeries - to achieve the perfect ‘look’, which can be perpetuated by the likes of social m…

Face-ism in 21st Century Visual Culture needs to be Eliminated

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I remember being absolutely staggered at the time. It was the mid-1980s, 15+ years since I’d acquired my imperfect and unique looks. Nightmare on Elm Street had broken box office records and spawned a new genre of horror movies. I was minding my own business walking down a street in London when a wag on a scaffolding rig shouted: “Hi, Freddy, you nasty piece of work” to much applause from his sandwich-eating mates. 

They were much surprised, I think, by my speedy and gently assertive yelled reply (not angry as they probably expected) as I walked on: “Actually, my name’s James”. I held my head up, adopted a resilient mindset (aka ‘a thick skin’) and moved on untouched.

I do have some passing likeness to Freddy Krueger, I suppose: serious facial scarring (after a car fire when I was 18) and a sub-digital left hand. But that’s as far as it goes.

An isolated incident? Not for me because it happens from time to time even 30 years later. And more generally, No too. For centuries, popular cultu…

Rogue Cosmetic Surgeons and the Criminal Law

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The disturbing case of breast surgeon, Ian Paterson, who mutilated countless patients over a period of several years, was a shocking example of a rogue surgeon. English criminal law plays only a minor role in regulating harmful medical misconduct, traditionally limited to gross negligence manslaughter. The conviction of Ian Paterson, in 2017, however, involved multiple convictions for serious non-fatal offences: unlawful wounding and intentionally causing grievous body harm, for which Paterson is now serving a twenty-year prison sentence. This case raises important questions about the role of the criminal law as a response to harmful and unreasonable/unjustifiable surgery. Paterson’s crimes include carrying out unnecessary, mutilating surgery on people who were falsely led to believe that the surgery was necessary and therapeutic. The prosecution’s case suggested that Paterson’s crimes were motivated by the lucrative financial rewards from his private surgical practice. Reflecting on …

The Psychology of Fashion: New Book

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Over the past six years, Prof Carolyn Mair PhD, has brought attention to a previously neglected area of Psychology: Psychology for Fashion. 

Prof Mair’s new book, The Psychology of Fashion, was published last week as part of Routledge’s Psychology of Everything series. The book is designed to engage a general audience by exploring the reciprocal relationships and influences between fashion and human behaviour.

Fashion is an important global economy which employs millions. Fashion touches everyone; we all wear clothes. As a result, the fashion industry affects us psychologically at individual, societal and global levels. In the book, Mair discusses the many purposes of clothing beyond functionality and shelter including conveying symbolic meaning, meeting the demands of individual taste, modesty and cultural expectations and displaying social status and gender preference. Furthermore, at a broader level, the behaviour of the fashion industry impacts the environment and influences the men…

Does my bum look big in this? How mothers’ negative body talk can influence their daughters' body image

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Body image concerns can develop early in life. Girls as young as five are dissatisfied with their appearance, are afraid of becoming fat, and express a desire to be thinner (Davison, Markey, & Birch, 2000; Lowes & Tiggemann, 2003). Sadly, these concerns often increase with age and are associated with harmful weight-loss behaviours, such as dieting and excessive exercise (Paxton et al., 1991; Stice & Shaw, 2002).
The parent-child relationship is a primary source of influence on development during childhood. For girls, mothers are important role models of eating behaviours and appearance-related attitudes. While it may seem normal and harmless for mothers to make negative comments about their own appearance or to engage in weight-loss strategies, their daughters may vicariously learn these attitudes and behaviours. Girls may model their mother’s behaviours and learn to place great value on the importance of being thin.
Research has found links between mothers’ self-reported b…

Why Fair is Unfair in UK Quality of Life: Evidence of the Bleaching Syndrome

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To be dark in the UK today regardless of race is to be unfairly stigmatized in failure to meet the ideal of fair skin. To be fair and/or light-skinned, on the other hand, is to be celebrated as attractive and smart in line with the fair skin ideal. This is true for UK men, UK women, UK whites, UK blacks and other UK people of color. 

Black and Asian citizens of the UK in particular not only experience this penchant for fair skin from outside their racial group but within it as well. While the bias against darkness is most apparent in skin bleaching by women around the world, it is increasingly apparent to UK dermatologists who see patients requesting skin bleaching products.
Gina is a dark-skinned woman in her mid-twenties and a resident of the UK, born of Jamaican descent.She is from south London where she was advised by friends to visit a shop in Peckham,where she purchased a bottle of skin lightening cream. What happened to her after using this cream is typical. However, her situatio…

Their stories, our collections; how sifting through 850,000 museum objects with the community will inform our new Body Image gallery

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Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) is undergoing a process of redeveloping all of the permanent storylines currently displayed in its galleries. This is a part of the museum’s new development plans to make BMAG the Museum for Birmingham. Currently our interpretation of storyline regarding Body Image will centre on the question:
How are individual identities created by viewing one’s own body in the context of a wider world?
The plan is tolook critically at the representation of the human form in public spaces as evidenced by museum's permanent collection. The enquiry would look at: who created these depictions, for what purpose and what the legacies of these sorts of images have today. Through the museum’s collection we are able to explore these ideas through objects created for children and vulnerable people; objects used for advertisements; objects used for, and depictions of, purposeful body alterations; as well as historical and contemporary critiques and expressions of bea…

New Year, New You?

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As a new member of the Beauty Demands Network, the inspirational, educational and always excellent posts have highlighted the increasing occurrence and variety of manifestations of Body dissatisfaction. 

Images portraying physical perfection are often used to provide motivation for exercise and weight loss. Body image issues are especially topical in the New Year, when the excesses of the holiday season are often followed by a renewed focus upon physical improvement.

As explored in a recent post by Heather Widdows, New Year resolutions often focus on changes such as weight loss.Sharp rises in gym membership, and adoption of healthy eating plans are common in January, and the drive for physical improvement also has an impact upon the number of people seeking cosmetic intervention. Some surgeons describe a rise in provision in these months, attributed to a range of factors including preparation for the summer, and the ease of masking post-surgical signs, under bulky winter clothes.The str…