While long a focus of feminist protest, “beauty” is today becoming an increasingly central theme within mainstream political discourse. This trend is apparent in, for example, the 2012 formation of an All Party Parliamentary Group in the UK, which was organized to investigate the sources of body image anxiety in that nation and to propose policy solutions to what is now deemed a serious social problem (see www.ymca.co.uk). At the level of international politics, the United Nations’ 2012 Commission on the Status of Women featured the psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach, who likened “the viscous body practices” required of contemporary Western women to the “appalling forms of violence” targeted at females in other parts of the world, such as forced marriage, rape as a tactic of war, and female genital mutilation. According to Orbach, “beauty” has become so dangerously powerful due to two simultaneous global forces; that is, at the same time that “beauty has been democratised” — or extended across national contexts — “the ideal of what beauty is” has grown increasingly narrow (see AnyBody’s Vent, 2012).
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