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Showing posts from July, 2016

Older women and unattainable beauty

Older women are shamed into believing they must fight the fear of ageing. The omnipresence of anti-ageing creams, gravity defying potions, surgical and non-surgical cosmetic interventions has resulted in an appearance-obsessed society which judges individuals by how well they measure up to the media stereotype of 'perfection'. Women in particular, and increasingly men, are targeted by advertisers and marketers to purchase products that promise youthful perfection. The global cosmetics industry continues to grow; its value in 2015 was 181 billion and the largest sector is anti-ageing products. The fear of ageing, sold to young consumers, generates an ageist perception of the ‘horrors’ that come with getting older. The unwelcome natural signs of ageing, including variations in skin tone (age spots), wrinkles and less collagen and therefore less elasticity in skin on the face, body and limbs must be fought or hidden at all costs. Baring flesh is a stressful issue for women and g…

Shoes and hair-dos: A quick reflection

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Press coverage of the emergence of Theresa May as the only Tory leadership candidate left standing and her elevation to PM was distinguished for me by the focus on her shoes. The Sun headline was ‘Heel, Boys’, and decisions about who is in and out of the cabinet was dubbed the ‘Hot Shoe Reshuffle’. Perhaps more dramatic than the headline was the full page image of the shoes and their implied link to sexiness via the dominatrix imagery of leopard-skin print, kitten-heels stamping on the heads of male politicians.




While this is the most dramatic example you don’t have to go far to find other mentions of her shoes. The Telegraph ran ‘Theresa May’s greatest footwear hits’ and ‘kitten-heals’ have been frequently mentioned outside ‘women’s programmes’ on Radio 4 over the last few days. While at least some of this coverage is celebratory and fun – and I confess to also being a shoe-devotee (the ‘Beauty Demands shoes’ are mine) – I can’t help again reflecting on the difference between how fema…

Do we really want our girls to be as “Pretty as a Princess”?

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In this post, Fiona MacCallum wonders whether the Disney Princess brand is having a detrimental effect on young girls.


You don’t have to be the parent of a young girl to be aware of the Disney Princess brand. The abundant merchandise (toys, clothing, lunch boxes, towels, party decorations – the list seems endless) is visible in any shopping centre, or children’s department.  In comparison to Barbie and other more overtly sexual media models, whose potentially damaging effects have been much discussed, the princesses can be seen by parents as “safe”. But with their exaggeratedly feminine body shapes and facial appearance, and with the gender stereotyped behaviours of the older examples (e.g. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella) who are uniformly portrayed as needing rescuing, can interacting with Disney Princesses really be so benign? New research from Professor Sarah Coyne and colleagues at Brigham Young University suggests not.  In a study of nearly 200 children aged 3-6, they…