Heather Widdows on Perfect Me!

Professor Heather Widdows
Heather Widdows

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 that this is what perfection is; and the third, as a moral demand.

In the book I am making three main arguments: First, about the ubiquity and dominance of the contemporary ideal – which I claim is different to past ideals in a number of significant ways; it applies to more types of women (and increasingly men); it applies for longer and that increasingly it is a global ideal. In addition, and importantly, it increasingly requires technological involvement to attain it. My second argument addresses what this beauty ideal implies for understandings of the self – what human beings are – and key to my position is an argument about the power of the imagined self – a self which has power to shape, constrain and limit our supposed choices. From the first two arguments I make a third claim about why choice and consent arguments don’t – and can’t – provide ethical safeguards in this context. I am right in the middle of this project and some are more developed than others, but I am greatly enjoying the process. Some of these arguments are developed in a recent paper given at the Global Gender Justice conference and can be viewed here.

You can read the full blog here: http://feministacademiccollective.com/2015/07/02/about-perfect-me-beautydemands/


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