The Demands of Beauty: Editors’ Introduction

Heather Widdows, Fiona MacCallum

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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This article introduces a Special Issue comprising four papers emerging from the Beauty Demands Network project, and maps key issues in the beauty debate. The introduction first discusses the purpose of the Network; to consider the changing demands of beauty across disciplines and beyond academia. It then summarises the findings of the Network workshops, emphasising the complex place of notions of normality, and the different meanings and functions attached to ‘normal’ in the beauty context. Concerns are raised here about the use of normal to justify and motivate engaging in beauty practices such as cosmetic surgery and ‘non-invasive’ procedures. Other workshop findings included the recognition of beauty as increasingly a global value rather than a culturally distinct ideal, and the understanding that there is no clear distinction between beauty practices that are considered standard and those that are considered extreme. These themes, especially the concerns around understanding of normal, are reflected in the recommendations made by the Network in its Briefing Paper, which are presented next in this introduction. A further theme picked up by these recommendations is the extent to which individuals who are not traditionally vulnerable may be so in the beauty context. Finally, the introduction highlights the key matters covered in the four papers of the Special Issue: regulatory concerns around cosmetic surgery tourism; the impact of digitally altered images from psychological and philosophical perspectives; the ethics of genetic selection for fair skin; and the attraction and beauty of the contemporary athletic body.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalHealth Care Analysis
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

This is an editorial/introduction to special issue and should be read with 'Altered Images: Understanding the influence of unrealistic images and beauty aspirations'


  • beauty ideals
  • cosmetic surgery
  • Globalisation
  • normalisation
  • beauty practices


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