Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 3 (4):1-26 (2017)

Sherri Irvin
University of Oklahoma
Open Access: This article argues for an aesthetic approach to resisting oppression based on judgments of bodily unattractiveness. Philosophical theories have often suggested that appropriate aesthetic judgments should converge on sets of objects consensually found to be beautiful or ugly. The convergence of judgments about human bodies, however, is a significant source of injustice, because people judged to be unattractive pay substantial social and economic penalties in domains such as education, employment and criminal justice. The injustice is compounded by the interaction between standards of attractiveness and gender, race, disability, and gender identity. I argue that we should actively work to reduce our participation in standard aesthetic practices that involve attractiveness judgments. This does not mean refusing engagement with the embodiment of others; ignoring someone’s embodiment is often a way of dehumanizing them. Instead, I advocate a form of practice, aesthetic exploration, that involves seeking out positive experiences of the unique aesthetic affordances of all bodies, regardless of whether they are attractive in the standard sense. I argue that there are good ethical reasons to cultivate aesthetic exploration, and that it is psychologically plausible that doing so would help to alleviate the social injustice attending judgments of attractiveness.
Keywords aesthetics  attractiveness  beauty  body  disability  fat  gender  Hume  oppression  race  everyday aesthetics
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DOI 10.5206/fpq/2017.4.3
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References found in this work BETA

Categories of Art.Kendall L. Walton - 1970 - Philosophical Review 79 (3):334-367.
Of the Standard of Taste.David Hume - 1757 - In Essays Moral, Political, and Literary. Libertyclassics (1987). pp. 226-249.

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Citations of this work BETA

Is It Bad to Prefer Attractive Partners?William D'alessandro - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-20.
On the Wellbeing of Aesthetic Beings.Sherri Irvin - forthcoming - In Helena Fox, Kathleen Galvin, Michael Musalek, Martin Poltrum & Yuriko Saito (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Mental Health and Contemporary Western Aesthetics. Oxford University Press.
Paths From the Philosophy of Art to Everyday Aesthetics.Oiva Kuisma, Sanna Lehtinen & Harri Mäcklin (eds.) - 2019 - Helsinki, Finland: Finnish Society for Aesthetics.

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Similar books and articles

Body Aesthetics.Sherri Irvin (ed.) - 2016 - Oxford University Press.
Aesthetic Ideals.Rafael De Clercq - 2008 - In Kathleen Stock & Katherine Thomson-Jones (eds.), New Waves in Aesthetics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 188-202.
Feminist Disability Studies.Kim Q. Hall (ed.) - 2011 - Indiana University Press.


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