Pathologising ugliness, normalising prejudice

  • Yves Aquino (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


Abstract: The aim of my paper is to investigate the ethical implications of medicalising norms of beauty. Medicalisation in this context may result from the ongoing conflation of health and beauty, with biological and sociocultural norms promoting the belief that a healthy body is a beautiful body (and vice versa). With the popularity of medical and surgical aesthetic procedures, the pursuit of the entangled ideals of health and beauty tend to reframe aesthetic concerns as medical problems. To a certain extent, medical reframing of aesthetic concerns leads to pathologisation of ugliness. Pathologisation of the ugly can occur in various ways: Ugliness can be associated with psychosocial problems, it can be depicted akin to disability, or it can be re-defined as disease or disorder. Criticisms against aesthetic medical practice are rooted in the notion that judgments about ugliness often reflect prejudices based on gender, social class and race. In this paper, my focus will be on the racial dimensions that underpin the pathologisation of the ugly by bringing into the foreground the racialised motivations that underpin some of the historical, cultural and political understandings of ugliness. I will then explain how racial dimensions of ugliness can inform an ethical analysis of medicalising norms of beauty-specifically how medicalisation impacts on the limits of medical practice and the goals of medicine.
Period1 Dec 2017
Event titleAustralasian Society for Continental Philosophy Conference 2017
Event typeConference
LocationHobart, AustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational