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The body beautiful – is it time to cover up? Salon experts debate the beauty ideal in the media

Do images of flawless, slim models make us feel bad about ourselves? Should pictures of perfect bodies be airbrushed out of our advertising? What influence do idealised fashion shots and celebrity photos wield over our self-esteem?

These are some of the questions that will be tackled by a panel of academic experts in conversation with a public audience at the latest Sussex Salon at Brighton’s Pavilion Theatre this week (Tuesday 3 April 2012).

The panel will also consider whether images of the ‘beauty ideal’ in fashion, advertising and the media should be more tightly regulated, as in the advertising of alcohol and tobacco and will examine what our obsession with the body beautiful says about our society.

The panel includes:

  • Andrea Cornwall, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Professor Cornwall is a political anthropologist whose research interests include development and empowerment, sex, gender, the politics of the body and sexual and reproductive rights;
  • Carol Dyhouse, Research Professor in History at the University of Sussex. Professor Dyhouse is author of Glamour: Women, History, Feminism. Her research focuses on the social history of nineteenth and twentieth century Britain, and in particular on gender, education and women's lives.
  • Dr Emma Weddell, a University of Sussex sociologist. Her research expertise focuses on eating disorders and their causes.
  • Gillian Bendelow, Professor of Sociology at the University of Sussex. Professor Bendelow is author of Health Emotion and The Body. An established medical sociologist, her research interests include chronic pain and ‘contested’ illness conditions; mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The Sussex Salon Series is organised by Dr Ruth Woodfield, a University of Sussex sociologist and Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange for the School of Law, Politics and Sociology.

The series offers an alternative evening out and highlights research at the University that engages with contemporary issues in a way that will appeal to a wide audience. All are welcome.

The practice of debating intellectual matters in public places such as coffee shops was a part of everyday life in 18th-century Europe. Such events were known as "salons", hence the title of this university series.

There will be a chance for some audience participation, too, 21st century-style, as audience members will be able to register their opinions during each debate by using an electronic voting system in response to specific questions

Notes for Editors

Join the debate: Sussex Salon Series – The Body Beautiful takes place on Tuesday 3 April 2012, 8pm, at the Pavilion Theatre, New Road, Brighton. Tickets: £6 (£4 concessions), price includes one free drink. Tickets can bought via the Brighton Dome online box office.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Monday, 2 April 2012