The Biopower of Beauty Essay

The Biopower of Beauty Essay

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In “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialism and Global Feminism in an Age of Terror,” Mimi Thi Nguyen argues that beauty as a measure of moral character functions to regulate an individual. Nguyen explains that beauty promises to be redemptive and bring an individual from the outside in relation with the world(362). For example, the United States through nongoverenmental orgainizations (NGO’s), have promoted beauty to Afghanistan women because it is a way if liberating them from an uncivilized barbaric society that oppresses them to hide their beauty through the veil. According to Kant, the veil is considered ugly because it hides the body, which is associated with the erotic. Kant claims that beauty made visible is true and good, while the invisible is ugly and erotic (266). Nguyen claims using Kant that beauty is connected to morality because it makes visible what the “ugly” is trying to hide by providing a pathway in which beauty can improve ones life. Nguyen asserts that individuals use beauty as a serious of techniques to produce knowledge and emotions that function to portray the individual with dignity in comparison to the “ugly”. Thus, the use of beauty as an educational tool that measures their character is an important factor in teaching women to associate themselves with the rest of the world.
Nguyen states the programs that NGO’s provide for women who do not have the knowledge to make themselves beautiful, serve as programs of empowerment that are connected to forms of dominance (360). Nguyen claims through beauty, Afghanistan women are suppose to feel a sense of self-worth and agency that was denied to them, while adhering to a set of western ideals of beauty. Nguyen claims this produces individual...


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...auty School. From Nguyen, beauty functions in foucauldian terms because the students are made aware about their bodies in relation to the west that forces them to regulate themselves in order to adhere to beauty norms and standards set forth by their instructors. Nguyen contends that the western experts then shape the bodies of the students, who will then shape the bodies of others who also want to be like the west. Since western institutions are in charge of the Kabul Beauty School, the beauty school functions to cultivate women who want to preserve beauty for the sake of their dignity and morality as a tool against the “ugly” and uncivilized who are not like the west. In conclusion, Nguyen argues that beauty connected to morality justifies the United States intervention within Afghanistan that regulates individuals to accept western culture over their own.

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