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 expectations of bei…

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 17th 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. Somet…

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 community1. 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 identity2. 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 cosmeti…

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

The 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 cross-sectional, …

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 an Appearance

Anxious Mothers and Yummy Mummies

I research gender representation in children’s books and its change over time. The huge imbalance of representation in favour of male characters has been discussed extensively but for me personally, one of the most fascinating, though not so surprising, findings was the overwhelming frequency of occurrence of the word ‘mother’ and ‘Mum’ in children’s books. A mother is the most frequent female character type in the 19th century books and remains to be also in contemporary texts for children. While in the 19th century ‘mother’ occurs with similar frequency as ‘father’ and when they are mentioned together the order ‘father and mother’ is the established norm, in books published after the year 2000 it is ‘Mum’ that is more frequent than ‘Dad’ and ‘Mum and Dad’ has become the norm.
However, mothers or mums are hardly ever the story protagonists. Sometimes we don’t even learn their names. Their defining feature, linguistically and otherwise, is that they are somebody’s mother. They perfor…