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Open Right

Lee Kofman: How to live in imperfect bodies in a perfection-loving world

Session Info:

An interactive talk that engages the audience in discussion.

In 2017, Mission Australia survey of 24,000 young people showed that anxiety about not being beautiful enough is one of the three most significant issues that torment this cohort, superseding concerns about drugs, alcohol, depression and suicide.

Peer pressure and social media promoting unrealistic expectations about what a beautiful body should look like have been found to be among the greatest exacerbators of body image concerns.

As a woman with extensive non-facial scarring, I’d spent my youth being consumed by feelings of inadequacy as far as appearance goes and expended much energy to hide my scars, feeling alone and a ‘freak’. It took me a long time to realise that everyone has something ‘imperfect’ about them, and many other people hide their supposed imperfections.

In this interactive talk I share my own story and also prompt group discussions about how we think about our and other people’s bodies, how we may make judgements about people’s character based on their appearance, and how we understand beauty and ugliness. My aim is to inspire honest conversation about appearance and body image, promote body diversity by helping my audience reflect on preconceived ideas about appearance, and offer them various realistic strategies how to live better in the bodies they have.

Topics covered:

  • my story of growing up with non-facial scars
  • historical perspective of the western view of the body as the mirror of the person’s character, including examples from current popular culture
  • understanding & critically assessing current beauty standards
  •  understanding & critically assessing the role social media, peer pressure & our own views can play in our body image concerns
  • unpacking body image concerns realistically, without minimising them
  • understanding that bodily ‘self-acceptance’ is more a verb than a noun; a work-in-progress
  • practical strategies for how to live as well as we can in imperfect bodies – my suggestions + collaborative discussion
  • examples of how we can use our imperfections to our advantage


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