Leading philosopher gives enlightening talk to Perse students

Clare Chambers (left) with Elin Oliver

Renowned political philosopher Clare Chambers gave a thought-proving talk on body modification at a special Perse Psychology Society event.

Dr Chambers discussed her latest book Intact: A Defence of the Unmodified Body during the lecture, which was organised by Psychology Society member Elin Oliver (Lower Sixth) and overseen by Perse Head of Psychology Sarah Mitchell.

She explained that we live in a ‘selfie culture’ with an emphasis on how we look, contributing to what psychologists call a ‘pandemic of appearance anxiety’ which can negatively impact mental health.

Dr Chambers, who is Professor of Political Philosophy and a Fellow of Jesus College, outlined that there is societal pressure to change our bodies and the way they look or work, offering the example of the pressure on women to ‘get their body back’ after pregnancy.

She said: “Which body should you be aiming for? Which body should be reclaimed? It suggests there’s a body that’s authentically yours and it means that body isn’t the one you find yourself in.”

In her book, Dr Chambers told students that while she defends the right of anyone to change their bodies, she also argues that the pressure to modify makes the body politically significant in terms of reinforcing inequalities of sex, gender, race, age, class and disability.

Dr Chambers rounded off an enlightening session by fielding students’ questions on a range of points from cosmetic surgery to transgender body modification.

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