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Showing posts from July, 2015

Cosmetic surgery and the harm principle

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In this post, Jan Kandiyali considers the issue of the regulation of cosmetic surgery, and asks whether more robust regulation or even criminalisation would be justified by an appeal to J.S. Mill's harm principle. Jan is the research network administrator on the Beauty Demands project, and an honorary research fellow in philosophy at the University of Sheffield. Comments and criticisms on this piece are welcome - email Jan here
One of the good things about studying political philosophy is that it equips you with resources to respond to various debates in the public domain. I hadn’t given much thought to the ethics of cosmetic surgery before I attended the second Beauty Demands workshop, but I had studied political philosophy, and thought that it would be a matter of applying what I knew to the debate. But I now see that things are not so simple.

One issue that was much discussed at the second workshop centred on the question of regulation: should the state take a more robust ap…

Is cosmetic surgery a quick fix for problems of self-esteem and body-image?

This is the first in a series of posts about the complex relationship between cosmetic surgery and body image . Here Sherri Irvin, Presidential Research Professor of Philosophy and Gender Studies, and Co-Director of the Center for Social Justice at the University of Oklahoma, gives her thoughts. If you would like to contribute to this discussion then please email your response to Jan Kandiyali.

Question: Cosmetic surgery is regarded by some as a 'quick fix' for more deep rooted problems of self-esteem and body-image. How far do you agree with this assessment of elective cosmetic surgery? If surgery is undertaken for reasons of self-esteem and/or body image do you think this is problematic?

The way the question is posed, asking whether cosmetic surgery is “a ‘quick fix’ for more deep rooted problems of self-esteem and body-image,” suggests that these deep-rooted problems are located in the mind of the person seeking surgery. But we are operating in a global culture that tells us …

Beauty and the Monster: Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery in Globalized South Korea

In this post, So Yeon Leem of the Collège d’études mondiales, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, France, gives an overview of her current research project, an ethnographic study of plastic surgery in South Korea in the context of globalization. To join the debate and contribute to the Beauty Demands project please email Jan Kandiyali.
Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been a new kind of plastic surgery boom in South Korea. While the old trend of plastic surgery aimed to modify the size or shape of certain parts of a face such as the eyes or nose, the new trend of plastic surgery – facial contouring or facial bone surgery – is mostly concerned with the overall shape and structure of a face, which is claimed to enhance aesthetical values of a face more drastically and fundamentally. In my work I pay attention particularly to ambivalent discourses of a surgically- made beauty related to this new plastic surgery phenomena – plastic beauty (成形美人) vs. plastic monster (成形怪物). Althou…

Heather Widdows on Perfect Me!

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Our project lead, Heather Widdows, has written a post on the feminist academic collective blog about the monograph she's currently working on, entitled Perfect Me!, and how this relates to the Beauty Demands project. Below I have pasted a couple of excerpts about her new book.

Perfect Me! is my current book project, a project funded by a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. Perfect me! explores the ideal of perfection as exhibited in contemporary, and increasingly global, ideals of beauty. Perfect me! can be read in a number of ways: as an individual’s aspiration to perfect themselves (‘I want to be perfect’), as assertion of what being perfect is (‘this is what I would be if I were perfect’), and as a command which a woman (or man) feels she should obey (‘I should be perfect’). In the book I explore all of these meanings, with particular focus on the moral element that each reading implies: the first, that being perfect is worth having; the second, a judgement tha…

Workshop 2: Reflections from Becki

Rebecca Nash is a PhD student at the Web Science Institute, University of Southampton. At the second Beauty Demandsworkshop, Becki presented a paper that explored the role of the web is sustaining beauty norms.Below are some of her reflections following the workshop. The third workshop will take place 14-15 October in Birmingham and will focus on the globalisation of beauty

I found the Beauty Demands workshop to be a fascinating, and helpfully multidisciplinary event which allowed me to engage with individuals from myriad professional backgrounds. It was an opportunity to hear perspectives on aesthetic surgery firsthand that I wouldn’t usually get the chance to listen to. Of particular interest to me were the presentations by surgeons Mark Henley and Chris Khoo – as I study aesthetic surgery from a sociological angle; surgical perspectives are often lost in a sea of issues to do with the contentious ethics of carrying out aesthetic procedures. It was novel to be able to hear clinica…

Workshop 2: Reflections from Kirsty

Kirsty Lee is a PhD student in the Psychology Department at the University of Warwick working on how bullying involvement affects the adolescent body. At the second Beauty Demandsworkshop, Kirsty presented a paper that explored the complex relationship between childhood bullying and beauty values.Below are some of her reflections following the workshop. The third workshop will take place 14-15 October in Birmingham and will focus on the globalisation of beauty. The deadline for abstracts for PhD students and early career researchers is 16 July at 4pm. 

I was delighted to attend the second “Beauty Demands” workshop, which focused on the relationship between beauty norms and cosmetic surgery. Not only did I have an opportunity to present my own PhD research (exploring the relationship between childhood bullying, interest in cosmetic surgery, and beauty values), but I was exposed to some very interesting presentations and discussions. The attendees were from a variety of disciplines (e.g…

From botox to facelifts - should professionals say yes? Further reflections on the second Beauty Demands workshop from Katharine Wright

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This is the second of two blog posts by Katharine Wright, Assistant Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The blog was written following the second Beauty Demands workshop. The third workshop will take place 14-15 October in Birmingham and will focus on the globalisation of beauty. The deadline for abstracts is 16 July at 4pm. 

As the demand for cosmetic procedures continues, what are the responsibilities of health professionals and scientists in developing, providing and actively promoting invasive non-reconstructive procedures that aim to enhance or ‘normalise’ appearance?

This was one of the topics we explored at the second workshop of the AHRC-funded Beauty Demands project on ‘Professionals, practitioners and beauty norms’ bringing together academic experts on body image and fashion, psychologists, philosophers, lawyers, surgeons and GPs to debate the role of professionals in responding to the changing requirements of ‘beauty’ (see my first blog, Body image, beauty myths …

Body image, beauty myths and cosmetic procedures: Reflections on the second Beauty Demands workshop from Katharine Wright

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This is the first of two blog posts by Katharine Wright, Assistant Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The blog was written following the second Beauty Demands workshop. The third workshop will take place 14-15 October in Birmingham and will focus on the globalisation of beauty. The deadline for abstracts is 16 July at 4pm. 

Earlier in June, the Nuffield Council hosted a workshop on ‘Professionals, practitioners and beauty norms’, bringing together academic experts on body image and fashion, psychologists, philosophers, lawyers, surgeons and GPs to debate the role of professionals in responding to the changing requirements of ‘beauty’.

This was the second of four such workshops to be held as part of the year-long multi-disciplinary AHRC-funded BeautyDemands project looking at changing attitudes to body image, and the consequent changing uses of procedures that have traditionally been regarded as ‘medical’ in order to attempt to achieve beauty norms.

Speaker after speaker pr…

Is cosmetic surgery merely a 'quick-fix' for problems of low self-esteem and body image? Join the debate!

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Following the second Beauty Demands workshop, ‘Professionals, Practitioners and Beauty Norms’, we asked participants to consider the complex relationship between cosmetic surgery, self-esteem and body-image. To contribute on the topic and post on this discussion please email your responses to Jan Kandiyali.
Question for Consideration: Cosmetic surgery is regarded by some as a 'quick fix' for more deep rooted problems of self-esteem and body-image. How far do you agree with this assessment of elective cosmetic surgery? If surgery is undertaken for reasons of self-esteem and/or body image do you think this is problematic?

Fiona MacCallum on Advertisements for Cosmetic Surgery and Beauty Practices

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This is the seventh in a series of posts about whether advertisements for cosmetic surgery and other beauty practices should be banned. Here Fiona MacCallum, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick, and Co-Investigator of the Beauty Demands project, gives her thoughts. If you would like to contribute to this discussion please email your response to Jan Kandiyali.

Would you be in favour of banning all advertisements for non-invasive beauty treatments and/or cosmetic surgery? If you are not in favour of banning all advertisements would you be in favour of banning some - for instance for certain types of procedures? If so can you explain why for some and not all and how you would determine which should be advertised?Would you differentiate depending on where adverts were placed; for instance would you accept adverts in women's magazines where the intended audience is adult women, but not in public places where they would be seen by children?Alt…