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Keywords:

  • aesthetic;
  • blushing;
  • shame

Summary

Many people are extremely anxious about their blushing and regard it as the cause of their social difficulties rather than as a symptom of them. This paper addresses the belief that there is something inherently unpleasant or unattractive about blushing. Historical evidence shows that redness of the cheeks has long been regarded as a sign of facial beauty and youth, and transitory changes such as the blush have also been seen in a positive light as an indication of modesty and charm. The blush is an expression of shame and embarrassment and it too can be regarded in positive or negative light depending on the circumstances. What is distinctive about contemporary anxieties about blushing is that perceived personal inadequacies are in themselves reason to be ashamed and embarrassed: there is a vicious circle where a blush is both a sign of, and reason for, self-deprecation. This perception is not a necessary one but reflects current cultural values and this has implications for the treatment of blushing anxieties.