#EverydayLookism is a campaign which shares “lookist” stories. Lookism is appearance discrimination and the most common form of bullying as reported in the Annual Bullying Survey by DITCH THE LABEL, but unlike sexist or racist bullying, it is too often accepted as normal.
We don’t put up with sexist comments, we shouldn’t put up with lookist comments. The Everyday Sexism project shared sexist stories, we share lookist stories to show its not ok. We should be ashamed of bodyshaming, not of our bodies.
The #EverydayLookism Facebook Live series is three live panel discussions on: Body image as a public health issue; Appearance bullying and lookism; and Mental health and body image. The debates are hosted by Professor Widdows and include cross-party MPs and leading NGOs. The debates will be live-streamed on the University Facebook channel throughout February-March 2021, and will also feature a live Q&A with audience members.
Professor Heather Widdows is the John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research Impact at the University of Birmingham. Her latest book, the well-received and critically acclaimed Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal (intro freely available here: Perfect Me Beauty as an Ethical Ideal - introduction (princeton.edu)) has been picked up globally and was named as one of The Atlantic’s Best Books of 2018. More details of the impact of Perfect Me can be found here: Perfect Me | Princeton University Press. Professor Widdows’ #EverydayLookism project expands on the ideas from Perfect Me by aiming to identify and address discrimination based on looks (lookism).
In this panel, Professor Widdows was joined by Dr Luke Evans MP and Dr Antonis Kousoulis of The Mental Health Foundation, to discuss why we need to take body image seriously and reframe it as a matter of public health.
Dr Antonis Kousoulis is The Mental Health Foundation’s Director of England and Wales, and leads the Foundation’s public mental health research, programmes, and policy functions across England and Wales. The Mental Health Foundation has been the UK’s leading charity for mental health for over 70 years. They focus on prevention, and on helping all people to understand, protect, and sustain their mental health. They have worked extensively on body image as a public health issue, including the 2019 report ‘Body image: How we think and feel about our bodies’.
Dr Luke Evans is a GP and the Conservative MP for Bosworth. He is a member of the cross-party Health and Social Care Committee, and is currently working on a Private Members’ Bill on Digitally Altered Body Images
In this panel Professor Widdows was joined by Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Martha Evans of The Anti-Bullying Alliance, and Phyllida Swift of Face Equality International to discuss the prevalence of appearance bullying, the most common form of bullying, and why this needs to be taken as seriously as other forms of bullying.
Martha Evans is the Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance. She also coordinates Anti-Bullying Week and leads the Alliance’s policy and campaigns work. The Anti-Bullying Alliance is a coalition of organisations and individuals who work together to raise awareness of the unacceptability of all forms of bullying. They support a number of positive strategies for dealing with and challenging bullying, including policy and advocacy work, local and national educational programmes on how to address and stop bullying, and Anti-Bullying Week. They identify ‘appearance related bullying’ as a key concern, and have previously discussed how it can be connected to implicit bias and banter.
Phyllida Swift is the CEO of Face Equality International, where she is responsible for agreeing its strategy; developing its activities, website and influence; encouraging NGOs to join the alliance; supporting its Members; and arranging Forum and Council meetings. Face Equality International is an alliance of NGOs, charities, and support groups working at national, regional, and international levels to campaign for ‘face equality’. They support those with facial differences and disfigurements, and aim to create a world where everyone is treated fairly whatever their face looks like.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy is the Labour MP for her home constituency of Streatham. Born and raised in Brixton Hill, Bell is a dedicated feminist, anti-racist and trade unionist who currently sits on the House of Commons Women & Equalities Select Committee.
In this panel, Professor Widdows was joined by Chris Evans MP and Steph Bird from Girl Guiding to discuss just how deeply body image anxiety cuts, and its impact on people’s self-esteem and behaviour.
Professor Widdows and guests discuss these connections, and what changes are needed in our value frameworks, cultures, and policies to improve this situation.
Chris Evans MP is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Islwyn. He has previously explained how he once suffered from body dysmorphia, and has discussed how media treatment of body image can negatively affect mental health.
Steph Bird volunteers in Communications and PR role for Girlguiding Birmingham including leading on social media. She also supports girls undertaking the Queens Guide Award (the highest award you can work towards in Guiding). In addition, she is a leader with both a Guide unit (girls aged 10-14 years) and a Ranger unit (14-18 years). Girlguiding is the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK, and aims to empower girls and young women to be their best and respond to the challenges of growing up today. They have worked extensively on body image and mental health, including a 2016 Girls’ Attitudes Survey on body confidence, and a 2020 response to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on body image.