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Showing posts from July, 2018

Ugly Selfies, Irony and Instagram

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Selfies have often been associated with the ongoing influence of beauty ideals as an aspirational imperative (MacCallum and Widdows, 2016) but simultaneously have been criticised as forms of narcissism (Burns 2015, Walker Rettberg, 2014).In fact, selfies are a diverse form of self-representation that includes images which their creators characterise as ‘ugly’. This is perhaps surprising given that ‘ugly’ carries strongly negative connotations. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective as:
Offensive or repulsive to the eye; unpleasing in appearance; of disagreeable or unsightly aspect
A word sketch of ‘ugly’ in the British National Corpus confirms that the evaluative negativity of the adjective in its contemporary use, showing that it is used typically to modify unpleasant creatures (brute, ogre, beast, troll, monster) or an insult (motherfucker, bastard, bitch).Why then would a person characterise their selfie with the modifier ‘ugly’?
In the mainstream media, ‘ugly selfies’ h…

Are beauty ideals so dominant and demanding that we feel a duty to be beautiful?

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“The beauty ideal is not an evil taskmaster, but it is an ethical ideal and powerful and only when we recognise it can we begin to address it. What we need is beauty without the beast”
Friday 1st June 2018 saw the official launch of Professor Widdows' new book ‘Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal’, published by Princeton University Press, at the University of Birmingham.
Perfect Me is the culmination of nearly ten years of research in the philosophy of body and beauty for Professor Widdows. The book explores the changing and ethical nature of the beauty ideal, where the pressure to achieve the ‘perfect’ body has become increasingly more dominant, more demanding, and more global than ever before.
Guest speakers for the launch included Dr Clare Chambers (University of Cambridge), and Professor Alison Jagger (University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Birmingham) who each summarised the arguments in Perfect Me before highlighting its most significant aspects. 

Dr Clare Cham…