Nancy ‘Bleeding’ practices where women calculatingly bled themselves

Nancy Etcoff argues that ‘no description can apprehendbeauty exclusively’ (Etcoff, N (2000) Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty). Gimlin explains the body is a medium of culture (Gimlin, D (2002) Body work: Beauty and self-Image in American Culture) where women face daily pressures to meet pre-designed standards of beauty in society. Women have traditionally undertaken measures of varying degrees to change their physical states in order to conform to a particular beauty trend, from 6Th century ‘Bleeding’ practices where women calculatingly bled themselves with leeches to gain paler complexions because they associated deeper skin tones with laborers to now 21st century surgically voluptuous derrieres. Etcoff further adds to her explanation with the following “beauty is something intrinsic to the object or simply as the pleasure an object evokes in the beholder”. Hume’s philosophy on aesthetics is in line with Etcoff and he too acknowledges that we cannot directly find a standard of beauty that sets out the qualities that a thing must possess in order to be beautiful (Costelloe, T.

M (2007) Aesthetics and Morals in the Philosophy of David Hume (Routledge Studies in Eighteenth Century Philosophy). In the Critique of Aesthetic Judgement Kant similarly describes aesthetic judgements as “Judgments of taste” and remarks that, they are based in an individual’s subjective feelings conceding thattaste is fundamentally subjective, that every judgment of beauty is based on a personal experience, and that such judgments vary from person to person (Kant, I. Critique of Judgment – Dover Philosophical classics (2012). Baumann (2014) adds that ideals concerning beauty fluctuate between people and cultures such as “ideals for height, body shape, facial parts, hairstyles and skin tone” (Baumann, S. 2014 “The Moral underpinning of beauty: A meaning based explanation of light and Dark Complexions in advertising”).

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For example, a large physique on women within the African and Eastern cultures is considered an appealing attribute and one which symbolises beauty and fertility in contrast western culture prides itself on smaller daintier builds. Grogan (2008) matches this statement by adding that “slenderness” in the western sphere signifies contentment, accomplishment and tolerability within the community. Non-conformity to this idealised image is deemed as “Unattractive” (Grogan, S. (2008) Body Image: understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children).


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