‘Embodied Identity and Cosmetic Alteration’ [Minutes]

Notes on the flow of discussion:

Cosmetic alteration as empowerment? (Negrin text) – match ‘outside’ with ‘inside’

 Non-sugical body alteration

White, Western dominant norm for ‘beauty’ and cosmetic alteration

 Middle class privilege in being able to afford surgery/body enhancement

Male/female spectatorship of the body – theories surrounding lesbian and gay identities

Cultural influences of the value of ‘weight’ regarding the understanding of ‘obesity’

Beauty not always equated with being healthy

Lack of body maintenance also a potential problem

Concept of ‘wellbeing’

Excessive exercise as a form of purging – addictive behaviours

Agency of the individual – informed choice (

In)visible bodies – trans, ‘disabled’ – the visible norm of the body in media and public consciousness

Norms of appearance – genetic manipulation

 *Ref TV/news: On Treacher Collins syndrome http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12987504

 Medicalisation of body alteration is new – body adornment and alteration has a long history (neck elongation, piercing/stretching of ear lobes)

Nature’s ‘peacocking’ – instinctual – attractiveness as a form of capital

Commercialisation of beauty

‘Facialiality’ – concentration of beauty on the face rather than the healthy body (Negrin text)

Body as performative tool/surface/site – Lady Gaga

Body as machine – athletes – cyborg bodies (featherweight boxers, actors)

Performance enhancing drugs in sport

How important is your body to your identity as an individual?

You right to alter you body?

Embodiment vs Subjectivity Relativity of ‘difference’ – different from – reinforces norms?

Dolezal text on desired invisibility: What about body alteration for people who want to be different?

Plurality of ‘norms’ – context-specific

Burqa – liberation/oppression – freedom from judgement on appearances?

Imagined ‘mirror’ of judgement by others

Invisibility of the body in the workplace – body as sexuality

Desire for invisibility during suffering – desire to hide

Menopause as invisible body alteration – freedom or mourning

Body alteration not always a choice

Value attributed to particular body parts


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