HAS Research Blog


Just showing posts with the tag CAR

CAR members attend the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image 

Posted by Kathleen Steeden | 0 comments

Members of the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) attended the launch of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Body Image on 18 May at the House of Commons. The group will examine the causes of negative body image and aims to engage with members of the advertising, fashion, and media industries to look at ways of promoting body confidence. CAR Research Fellow Dr Phillippa Diedrichs was invited to give a presentation as the CAR representative for the Campaign for Body Confidence.

Dr Diedrichs hopes that the APPG will provide a political platform to advocate for increased funding into body image research and positive body image interventions in schools.

Dr Phillippa Diedrichs with MPs and body image campaigners

Phillippa with MP’s and body image campaigners
Front L-R: Lynne Fetherstone MP, Phillippa Diedrichs (CAR), Rosi Prescott (Central YMCA CEO), Mary Glindon MP.
Back L-R: Suzie Orbach, Caryn Franklin, Caroline Nokes MP, Jo Swinson MP.

For more information about the event visit the
Campaign for Body Confidence website.
Click here for more information about Dr Phillippa Diedrichs’ research

Research image of the month #3: CAR 'any size' fashion shoot 

Posted by Kathleen Steeden | 1 comment
Model posing at CAR any size fashion shoot

This might look an like an unlikely candidate for a Health and Life Sciences Research image - more like something from a fashion magazine. In fact it was taken during an 'any size' fashion shoot organised by researchers from the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) in the Department of Psychology.
CAR researchers Dr Phillippa Diedrichs and Nicole Paraskeva organised the shoot to encourage the use of models with diverse body shapes and sizes in the media. They will use the photos to explore the impact of unrealistic perfected images on appearance and body image, by comparing public opinion of these photos of ‘real people’ with those of airbrushed models more often used in advertising campaigns and fashion magazines. 

Research consistently shows that viewing idealised media images has a negative impact on body image for children and adults. Exposure to ultra-thin and muscular models contributes to unrealistic beauty ideals and can seriously harm individuals’ psychological and physical wellbeing.

Speaking about the importance of the research Dr Diedrichs says: “There have been recent calls from the general public, advocacy groups and politicians for the use of models that reflect reality and have different body shapes and sizes. We hope that these photos, presenting more diverse and realistic images of beauty, will help to promote healthy body image".

For more information visit the CAR website

Spotlight on postgraduate research: Nikki Hayfield 

Posted by Kathleen Steeden | 0 comments

I spoke to Nikki Hayfield from the Department of Psychology who is in the third year of her PhD investigating bisexual women’s visual identities. She is based in the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR).

Hi Nikki, w
hat’s your background and how did you come to UWE?
I came to UWE in 2002 to undertake my undergraduate degree in Psychology. My final year research dissertation was a qualitative exploration of women’s feelings about sex and affection in long term relationships, which is currently under submission as a journal paper. Once I completed my degree, I knew that I wanted to do more research, and after spending some time in Australia, I returned to the UK and applied for this PhD.

What’s the title of your PhD?
Bisexual women’s visual identities: A feminist mixed-methods exploration.

And what are the main aims?
The overarching aim of my research is to provide a deeper understanding of bisexual visual identities.

A small body of literature on lesbians and gay men has identified that appearance norms can serve a number of functions. These include identity formation, coming out, recognition, attracting an appropriate partner, resisting heteronormativity, forming communities, and safe-guarding these spaces from voyeuristic or homophobic others. Far less is understood about whether bisexual people share the appearance norms of lesbians and gay men, have their own appearance norms, or are entirely invisible. Broadly speaking I wanted to explore the ways in which bisexual women manage and understand their appearance. More widely I was also interested in how women understand theirs and other peoples’ and visual identities.

Why is your research important?
This research fills a gap in knowledge around bisexual women and their appearance practices and (lack of) visual identities. While appearance has often been trivialised, it’s actually a really important part of forming our identities.

Bisexual people have often been described as overlooked, marginalised and invisible. This research confirmed that many bisexual women are literally invisible, and this has implications for health and wellbeing. The research in itself draws attention to bisexual women.

You're based in the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR), what's it like working there?
I’m lucky to work in the CAR PhD office; it’s an amazing environment in which to complete a PhD. Although the other students are not directly involved with my project, there is a supportive atmosphere and a fantastic research student community.

How did you collect and use your data?
My PhD is a mixed methods exploration. I conducted 20 qualitative interviews, which asked bisexual women questions about their own and others’ appearance and identity. I analysed the data using thematic analysis. I then used the results to devise a quantitative questionnaire to explore the topic more widely, with more people. This was filled out by nearly 500 lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual women, who answered questions about their appearance practices, femininity, the media, and identity. Finally, I developed a qualitative survey which asked nearly 200 students (mainly heterosexual) whether they could recognise lesbians, gay men, bisexual and heterosexual people through their appearance.

You're nearing the end of your PhD now. Has your research shown that bisexual women have recognisable visual identities distinct from lesbian ‘looks’?
My research findings indicate that bisexual women do not have their own distinct visual identity. While stereotypical lesbian and gay ‘looks’ were recognised by heterosexual, lesbian, and bisexual women, in contrast most (bisexual, lesbian, and heterosexual) participants struggled to identify any clear bisexual look. Consequently they either described bisexual people as looking like lesbian/gay people, or as not recognisable from anybody else (eg like heterosexual people). 
I spoke to some bisexual women who were involved within bisexual communities who did make reference to particular nuanced looks within bisexual spaces. However these would not translate to being a visual identity that was recognisable outside of that space, particularly because they were often looks that might be shared with other non-bisexual people (these included Goth looks, and hippy, or alternative, looks).

Do you have any plans for when you complete your research?
I've nearly finished my thesis now, and am keen to continue conducting research. I would still like to work in appearance and sexuality research, but would also be interested in branching out into different topics and am currently looking for jobs around the South-West.

Visit Nikki's profile to find out more about her research.

Appearance Matters 4 

Posted by Kathleen Steeden | 0 comments
The Centre for Appearance Research held their 4th Appearance Matters conference at the historical Wills Memorial Building in Bristol on 22 and 23 June. The conference brought together 168 international delegates, amongst them psychologists, researchers, specialist nurses, academics, postgraduate students, medical professionals, sociologists and charity representatives with an interest in issues around the psychology of appearance.

Clockwise from top left: Prof Nichola Rumsey and Dr Diana Harcourt, CAR directors, with keynote speaker Prof Alex Clarke (centre); delegates networking and admiring the poster displays in the Great Hall; a visitor studies one of the paintings from the Saving Faces exhibition; delegates in a presentation. [Photos courtesy of Paul Hobbs photography]

The event was supported by the charities Healing Foundation and Changing Faces, which fund and assist people living with disfigurement and campaign to change public perceptions of those with visible differences. Saving Faces, the Facial Surgery Research Foundation also lent the conference some paintings by Mark Gilbert that portray patients before, during or after surgery for injury, disfigurement or cancer.

Professor Alex Clarke, Royal Free Hospital London, and Professor Lina Ricciardelli, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia gave the keynote speeches. Across the two days delegates also attended presentations and workshops, which highlighted the scope and quality of research in areas including working with patients, adolescents, user involvement, the impact of new media on body image, young people and visible difference, cancer, weight, interventions and surgery.

Dr Diana Harcourt (co-director of CAR) spoke really positively about this year’s conference: “Worldwide, interest in the psychology of appearance has increased greatly in recent years. The Appearance Matters conferences are an international forum for research across all aspects of appearance and the 4th event has been an absolute success.  As ever, we were pleased to welcome delegates from both clinical and academic backgrounds, and from many parts of the world including Malaysia, the United States, Australia, South America and across Europe and the UK. Our highly respected keynote speakers Alex Clarke and Lina Ricciardelli both spoke engagingly about their research and the workshops and presentations prompted lively discussion amongst attendees. Now we just have to start planning for Appearance Matters 5…”

For more information contact Emma Thomas