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Rogue Cosmetic Surgeons and the Criminal Law

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The disturbing case of breast surgeon, Ian Paterson, who mutilated countless patients over a period of several years, was a shocking example of a rogue surgeon. English criminal law plays only a minor role in regulating harmful medical misconduct, traditionally limited to gross negligence manslaughter. The conviction of Ian Paterson, in 2017, however, involved multiple convictions for serious non-fatal offences: unlawful wounding and intentionally causing grievous body harm, for which Paterson is now serving a twenty-year prison sentence. This case raises important questions about the role of the criminal law as a response to harmful and unreasonable/unjustifiable surgery. Paterson’s crimes include carrying out unnecessary, mutilating surgery on people who were falsely led to believe that the surgery was necessary and therapeutic. The prosecution’s case suggested that Paterson’s crimes were motivated by the lucrative financial rewards from his private surgical practice. Reflecting on …

The Psychology of Fashion: New Book

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Over the past six years, Prof Carolyn Mair PhD, has brought attention to a previously neglected area of Psychology: Psychology for Fashion. 


Prof Mair’s new book, The Psychology of Fashion, was published last week as part of Routledge’s Psychology of Everything series. The book is designed to engage a general audience by exploring the reciprocal relationships and influences between fashion and human behaviour.

Fashion is an important global economy which employs millions. Fashion touches everyone; we all wear clothes. As a result, the fashion industry affects us psychologically at individual, societal and global levels. In the book, Mair discusses the many purposes of clothing beyond functionality and shelter including conveying symbolic meaning, meeting the demands of individual taste, modesty and cultural expectations and displaying social status and gender preference. Furthermore, at a broader level, the behaviour of the fashion industry impacts the environment and influences the men…

Does my bum look big in this? How mothers’ negative body talk can influence their daughters' body image

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Body image concerns can develop early in life. Girls as young as five are dissatisfied with their appearance, are afraid of becoming fat, and express a desire to be thinner (Davison, Markey, & Birch, 2000; Lowes & Tiggemann, 2003). Sadly, these concerns often increase with age and are associated with harmful weight-loss behaviours, such as dieting and excessive exercise (Paxton et al., 1991; Stice & Shaw, 2002).
The parent-child relationship is a primary source of influence on development during childhood. For girls, mothers are important role models of eating behaviours and appearance-related attitudes. While it may seem normal and harmless for mothers to make negative comments about their own appearance or to engage in weight-loss strategies, their daughters may vicariously learn these attitudes and behaviours. Girls may model their mother’s behaviours and learn to place great value on the importance of being thin.
Research has found links between mothers’ self-reported b…

Why Fair is Unfair in UK Quality of Life: Evidence of the Bleaching Syndrome

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To be dark in the UK today regardless of race is to be unfairly stigmatized in failure to meet the ideal of fair skin. To be fair and/or light-skinned, on the other hand, is to be celebrated as attractive and smart in line with the fair skin ideal. This is true for UK men, UK women, UK whites, UK blacks and other UK people of color. 

Black and Asian citizens of the UK in particular not only experience this penchant for fair skin from outside their racial group but within it as well. While the bias against darkness is most apparent in skin bleaching by women around the world, it is increasingly apparent to UK dermatologists who see patients requesting skin bleaching products.
Gina is a dark-skinned woman in her mid-twenties and a resident of the UK, born of Jamaican descent.She is from south London where she was advised by friends to visit a shop in Peckham,where she purchased a bottle of skin lightening cream. What happened to her after using this cream is typical. However, her situatio…

Their stories, our collections; how sifting through 850,000 museum objects with the community will inform our new Body Image gallery

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Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) is undergoing a process of redeveloping all of the permanent storylines currently displayed in its galleries. This is a part of the museum’s new development plans to make BMAG the Museum for Birmingham. Currently our interpretation of storyline regarding Body Image will centre on the question:
How are individual identities created by viewing one’s own body in the context of a wider world?
The plan is tolook critically at the representation of the human form in public spaces as evidenced by museum's permanent collection. The enquiry would look at: who created these depictions, for what purpose and what the legacies of these sorts of images have today. Through the museum’s collection we are able to explore these ideas through objects created for children and vulnerable people; objects used for advertisements; objects used for, and depictions of, purposeful body alterations; as well as historical and contemporary critiques and expressions of bea…

New Year, New You?

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As a new member of the Beauty Demands Network, the inspirational, educational and always excellent posts have highlighted the increasing occurrence and variety of manifestations of Body dissatisfaction. 

Images portraying physical perfection are often used to provide motivation for exercise and weight loss. Body image issues are especially topical in the New Year, when the excesses of the holiday season are often followed by a renewed focus upon physical improvement.

As explored in a recent post by Heather Widdows, New Year resolutions often focus on changes such as weight loss.Sharp rises in gym membership, and adoption of healthy eating plans are common in January, and the drive for physical improvement also has an impact upon the number of people seeking cosmetic intervention. Some surgeons describe a rise in provision in these months, attributed to a range of factors including preparation for the summer, and the ease of masking post-surgical signs, under bulky winter clothes.The str…

Rupturing the General Self: A Reflection on Image

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Oxford Street with its cold white chiselled structures has some kind of intoxicating effect on me, even when I have vowed to purchase more ethically (and minimally!). The high gloss smooth images of faces beckon away from the grey drizzle of the January streets. Each body curve a cue to come further in, through the double doors into the land of plenty. Later, reflecting on it, I try to pick apart more of what has happened. Whom am I responding to in these adverts, and who do I want to become in this exchange? It feels like a guttural response, like a longing of desire, to be fed and nourished, to participate in the plenty. To feel what it means to be welcome, to have plenty. But who is the person, what have I actually exchanged, in the encounter?
There is a lot that can be analysed in this example. The effects of consumption habits, the unconscious motivation, the capitalist strategies at play. However, as I critically engage with the givenness of this situation, I see how phenomenolog…