» Understanding the rising demands of beauty

Understanding the rising demands of beauty

May 22, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The Birkbeck Department of Philosophy invites you to the third in a series of talks this year by prominent feminist theorists organised by Birkbeck Women in Philosophy.

Heather Widdows is the John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research Impact at the University of Birmingham. She is a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and Deputy Chair of the Philosophy sub-panel for REF 2021. She previously served on the UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council (2007-2013) and on the Philosophy sub-panel REF 2014. Her most recent book is Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal. Previous books include: The Connected Self: The Ethics and Governance of the Genetic Individual, Global Ethics: An Introduction, The Moral Vision of Iris Murdoch.

The talk is taken from my new book Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal. In the talk I will describe the emerging beauty ideal and why it is an ethical ideal. I will argue it is the first global beauty ideal and that this is significant. Only a global ideal can be ethical and dominant such that it can demand more across demographics, normalise and naturalise. Yet despite the rising demands the rhetoric around beauty continues to be that of choice, even though practices are required. I will explore how we understand the requirement to do beauty, how we increasingly feel like failures as it becomes harder to make the grade, and the dominance of the choice narrative. I will argue that traditional responses, for instance that individuals should simply resist, are no longer effective or ethical.

Wednesday 22nd May 2019, 6.00pm
Venue TBC (Bloomsbury Campus, Birkbeck)