Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal
Perfect Me is Heather's latest book, exploring how looking beautiful has become a moral imperative in today’s visual and virtual world. Rightly or wrongly, being perfect has become an ethical ideal to live by, and according to which we judge ourselves good or bad, a success or a failure. Perfect Me explores the changing nature of the beauty ideal, showing how it is more dominant, more demanding, and more global than ever before. Heather argues that our perception of the self is changing. More and more, we locate the self in the body--not just our actual, flawed bodies but our transforming and imagined ones. As this happens, we further embrace the beauty ideal. Nobody is firm enough, thin enough, smooth enough, or buff enough—not without significant effort and cosmetic intervention. And as more demanding practices become the norm, more will be required of us, and the beauty ideal will be harder and harder to resist. Perfect Me examines how the beauty ideal has come to define how we see ourselves and others and how we structure our daily practices—and how it enthralls us with promises of the good life that are dubious at best. Perfect Me demonstrates that we must first recognize the ethical nature of the beauty ideal if we are ever to address its harms.
The demand to be beautiful is increasingly important in today’s visual and virtual culture. Conforming to beauty ideals is becoming ever more demanding and defining of women, and increasingly men, irrespective of their professions. Rightly or wrongly, being perfect, or just good enough, has become an ethical ideal to live by, and according to which we judge ourselves good or bad, a success or a failure. We are so used to people commenting on beauty that the harshness of their moral judgement can pass us by: you should ‘make the best of yourself’, you’re worth it, you deserve it and, whatever else you do, you should not ‘let yourself go’. The moral pressure to ‘do’ beauty is growing. Increasingly being perfect – or trying to be – is what we value most. It is what we think about, talk about and what we spend our time and hard-earned cash on. Heather launched the #everydaylookism campaign to end body shaming in June 2019 at Annual Global Ethics Conference at the University of Birmingham. Negative comments about other people's bodies matter. When we shame bodies, we shame people. These are lookist comments. We no longer put up with sexist comments, we don't need to keep putting up with lookist comments. Sharing your lookism stories shows how common lookism is, it calls it out, it says it's not ok. You can read the anonymous stories and share your own if you wish on the #everydaylookism website.
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