Showing posts from 2020

'Strong, thick and shiny’: a story of hair and beauty ideals

With hair salons closed in many countries under lockdown, reports say there is a boom in "bootleg home-visit haircuts". We revisit this lovely post from Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra in 2018, exploring the significance of hair.

‘Will you please put a comb through your hair? You look like a madwoman’. This admonition from my mother, which echoed through my teen age years with troubling regularity, was delivered in a tone filled with exasperation and incredulity. That an otherwise seemingly reasonable young girl would want to pass as insane, was beyond her understanding.
But I get ahead of myself.
When my respectable, middle-class Bengali parents left India for Europe in the early 70’s, they packed a few essentials otherwise not found across the seven seas. These included some mundane items, such as a terrifying screaming pressure cooker and carefully folded silk saris guarded by moth-balls. But more importantly, they brought with them the norms, standards and traditions from the moth…

“I can’t believe you don’t have a thigh gap": #everydaylookism and why we should be ashamed to body shame.

Fat shaming is the most prevalent type of body shaming – so common that some argue it’s OK, ‘it’s for your own good’, or suggest that it should make a comeback (like it has gone anywhere). In a visual culture where our bodies are ourselves, a claim I make in Perfect Me, body shaming is people shaming. Body size and shape is something we worry about to the point of obsession. Many of us struggle to be thin, with most of us (84.1% in a study of 9,667 Western women) “wanting to be thinner” according to the YouBeauty survey (Swami, Tran, Stieger, Voracek & The Team, 2014, p.705).
So dominant is the ‘thin ideal’ that 59% of girls between 17-21 feel they should lose weight (Girls Attitudes Survey, 2016). And this figure is higher according to some studies, with the Body Image Center, reporting that “89% of girls have dieted by age 17”. That we feel shame of our size is clear, so ashamed that we admit to lying about it; 8% of UK women admit to having “lied to [their] partne…

What Role does Social Media play in Young People’s Perceptions of their Bodies?

With millions of adolescents across the world currently in lockdown and more reliant on social media for interactions than ever, we revisit this post from Victoria Goodyear in 2018 on how social media plays into young people's self-perceptions, and the importance of adults understanding this.

Social media is often referred to as a ‘toxic’ or ‘dangerous’ environment for young people, particularly in the case of body image. Celebrity and/or advertising cultures, and increased exposure to vast amounts of unregulated content are commonly identified as ‘risky’ online practices (see Fardouly and Vartanian, 2016). Yet, the extent to which social media impacts on young people’s perceptions of their bodies is relatively unknown. There is little understanding of the types of content young people engage with, and how and why their knowledge and behaviours are influenced. 

To better understand how to support young people’s body image-related knowledge and behaviours, we need to learn from them …

Body Image in Lockdown

In a world transformed by coronavirus, some people might think talking about body image is inappropriate. When our lives are stripped back and we are focused on survival, to think about measuring up in the beauty stakes is not OK for some, even morally wrong.
The virus has transformed all of our lives, but some people’s lives more than others. Many will be sick or grieving or in fear of their lives or their loved ones’ lives.
In the current circumstances, every day we find ourselves safe and well, we should feel exceptionally grateful. This change might continue for some, and as we come out of this crisis ,they might continue to value every day, and care far less about things they used to think mattered. We fullyrecognise this and are not speaking about body image because we think it is the most important issue for everyone right now.
But for some, it is an issue which is a continuing concern and one which is intensified in lockdown. Many, especially young people, are finding the press…