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Showing posts from May, 2020

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

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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.

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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 YouBeauty.com 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…