About Beauty Demands

The Beauty Demands Project began with the funding of two key research initiatives. First, a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship held by Heather Widdows which finished in October 2016. This fellowship supported the completion of a monograph Perfect Me! (under contract with Princeton University Press). ‘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 feels she should obey (‘you should be perfect’). Perfect Me! explores 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, a moral imperative to attain it. You can hear Heather speak about her project.

Second, an AHRC Network Grant The Changing Requirements of Beauty’
which finished in June 2016 (PI Heather Widdows, Co-I Jean McHale). The network brought
together scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers from across disciplines including gender studies, history, law, medicine, philosophy, psychology and sociology. The assumption of the network was that body image is becoming ever more demanding and defining of women, and increasingly men, irrespective of their professions. The project ran a series of four workshops:

In addition to the workshops key deliverables are the on-going Beauty Demands Network and its associated blog (http://beautydemands.blogspot.co.uk/) and the Beauty Demands Briefing Paper (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-artslaw/beautydemands/beauty-demands-briefing-paper-june-2016.pdf). The briefing paper contains key findings of the network in ethics, psychology and law, and makes policy recommendations based upon these. The briefing paper was launched at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in June 2016.

The work of Beauty Demands continues in the growing network and the blog, in addition to further research initiatives currently in progress.