Showing posts from 2019

No Going Back after the First Pluck?

Outside Hirsutism 1 and at times pubic hair 2 , societal perceptions of women’s bodies include an absence of hair 3 , as we know female beauty and normative femininity is still overall represented and perceived through a hairless appearance. Representations overarchingly continuing to construct and maintain an image of a ‘fuzz free’ look as natural for women (Jenkins, 2017; Smelik, 2015; Fahs and Delgardo, 2011), and hair outside what should softly cascade from our scalps, as the invader to be plucked, waxed, shaved, bleached and/or lasered off.  Accordingly, even as representations of hairlessness are brought into question in the UK and elsewhere, with female celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Amber Rose and Madonna publicly embracing their body hair, hair removal products and methods continue to boom.  For the BSA (British South Asian) women I interviewed in Birmingham 4 , the mundane and routine act of hair removal that often starts in adolescence, is positioned as requiring con

Good Girls and Dutiful Wives: The impact of Protestant femininities on sufferers of anorexia

The very term ‘Protestant femininity' could be considered a misnomer: ‘Protestant’ covers a wide spectrum of traditions; and Christian traditions tend not to theorise over constructed femininities, preferring – particularly those of a more conservative leaning – to understand woman as a stable concept with only one model.   Nonetheless, I argue that there has emerged from the more conservative Protestant churches in Western culture, a construction of ‘ideal femininity’. In my research with Christian women who have suffered from anorexia, it has become apparent that this ideal’s expectations have contributed to their illness. Two memoirs of eating disorders offer a perspective on the Protestant feminine ideal and its relation to weight and food: Jo Ind writes of her compulsive eating disorder ( Fat is a Spiritual Issue) and Emma Scrivener recounts her experience of anorexia ( A New Name). Both women express the difficulty they had surrounding their own identity, the expectatio

Females During a Time of Change: A Closer Look at Beauty in the Lebanese October 2019 Revolution

Author’s note: I initially wanted to write about my aging self and the attitude people in Lebanon have towards my reluctance to follow the social norms of body and facial maintenance, but as I began to write my piece for the blog, the Lebanese people took to the streets in revolt against a corrupt government which has made life in Lebanon unbearable. The revolution began October 17 th 2019, and as of yet seems to be non-ending. I have spent all this time watching the females of my country (all ages) take to the streets and challenge norms; thus, I was motivated to change the direction of my piece. Beauty. A word that has layers of meanings. It is a word that has been used for centuries denoting the expectations of a female’s physical appearance. Even in some cases it has been used to imply the actions of a female as in the adage “beauty is as beauty does”. But what does any of this actually mean? I am a 56-year-old woman. I am a university professor and my area of study is dance.

Cosmetic Surgery for children

Major influences on children’s development of self-concept include communication from others about the self, comparisons they make with others in their immediate environment and the role assigned to them by the community 1 . The face is a key component of many adults’ self-identity and to the developing child, the face provides an early and continuing source of information about a persons’ personal identity 2 . If the face is so important, should we let children have cosmetic surgery? The Nuffield Council on Bioethics defines cosmetic surgery as surgery which will alter a person’s appearance, and which has a primarily aesthetic rather than functional aim. Their 2017 report identified specific ethical concerns for teenagers in particular as sensitive to peer pressures, and at a vulnerable stage of development with respect to their sense of their own identity. A survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons found 55% of surgeons said patients now seek

"I don't feel like me anymore": The impact of the hospital gown on wellbeing

T he impact of clothing Despite the known impact of clothing on social identity and self-expression, the impact of hospital clothing on patient wellbeing has been widely overlooked. In the UK a 'one size fits all', backless gown, held together with ties at the back, is commonly used to provide access to medical professionals for examination and medical investigations.   We were interested in exploring the impact of wearing this gown on patient wellbeing during a time of medical vulnerability.   We led this work in collaboration with Dr Georgiadis, Sports and Exercise Psychologist, University of Suffolk. Using a multi-method approach, consisting of two studies, we considered the impact of the hospital gown on wellbeing among adults with and without chronic health conditions. The first study consisted of conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n = 10) with adults living with a lifelong chronic health condition (Congenital Heart Disease). The second study was a cros

Making an Appearance: Beauty Demands and Performance Work

Trigger warning: this post discusses issue related to body-image and includes references to disordered eating. Earlier this year, Game of Thrones  and Bodyguard  actor, Richard Madden , criticised the "unrealistic" appearance demands facing performers. He reported having had "numerous jobs where you're told to lose weight and get to the gym" and recounted doing the "barely eating, working-out-twice-a-day, no-carbing thing" ahead of filming certain scenes. Madden is not alone in his concerns about the appearance expectations facing performers. Stars including Jennifer Lawrence , James Corden , and  the late Carrie Fisher have all spoken out about appearance-pressures in the film industry. But it's not just celebrities who experience these kinds of demands. The findings of the "Making an Appearance" research project highlighted the widespread nature of appearance-pressures facing people across the performance industries.  Making a