The idea and ideal of "beauty" has been used to oppress women of different ages, body types, skin color, and physical ability. The theoretical discussion of aesthetics has also been conditioned by these same dynamics of power and oppression. In She Who Imagines, a diverse set of scholars challenges the exclusion and false definitions while constructing capacious ideas that discover beauty in unexpected places.
In these essays, the authors draw on a variety of arts media—painting, photography, portraiture, craftwork, poetry, and hip-hop music—thereby joining beauty to truth and, in a richly defining way, to the practice of justice. In a variety of ways all the essays link women's definitions of beauty with experiences of suffering and hence with the yearning for justice. All clearly prize resistance to degradation as an essential element of thought.
Laurie Cassidy is associate professor of religious studies at Marywood University. She is co-editor of Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence (Orbis, 2007).
Maureen H. O'Connell is associate professor of theology at Fordham University. She is the author of If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice (Liturgical Press, 2012) and Compassion: Loving Our Neighbor in an Age of Globalization(Orbis, 2009).