BA English & Related Literature, First. Department of English & Related Literature, University of York
MA Culture of Modernism, Distinction. Department of English & Related Literature, University of York
Recipient of the University of York Overseas Research Scholarship 2015-2018
After completing my BA and MA with the Department of English Literature at York, I worked for more than 10 years in English print media in Malaysia, writing for publications such as The Star (Malaysia) newspaper, Harper’s Bazaar Malaysia, Time Out KL and Elle Malaysia. I have also written for online journals / blogs such as Huffington Post Blogs UK, elephant journal and my own website, a beauty full mind.
Having written my MA dissertation on the influences of magazines and advertisers on the identities of women in the 1920s, and through my later work in fashion and lifestyle magazines, I maintained a strong interest in how beauty standards continue to be upheld in Western-influenced societies today, and how they affect women's relationships to their bodies. This has led to the pursuit of my current doctoral research.
I am currently in my fourth / writing-up year of my PhD, examining women’s responses to beauty ideals. I was awarded the People’s Choice Award at the UK national 3-Minute Thesis competition 2018 for my presentation; and also participated as a finalist in Falling Walls Lab, Surrey 2018 – these activities reflect my strong interest in public engagement and in bringing my research to non-specialist audiences.
My research examines how women construct knowledge and meaning around feminine beauty ideals and body image. By analysing in-depth interviews with women from around the world – using thematic and discourse analysis – I seek to understand how women respond to and 'do beauty' in the way they narrate their beauty stories and talk to each other about beauty and body ideals.
Through this analysis, I am exploring how storytelling our social interactions, experiences and personal histories around bodies and beauty can form powerful resistance to conventional, mainstream beauty ideals; and thus, offer powerful therapeutic potential for treating women’s troubled relationships to their bodies.
The findings from my research can be used as a basis for creating body-related educational programmes in schools; developing therapeutic workshops with support group; and for informing policy to guide healthier representations of bodies throughout society, such as in media, advertising, and fashion, beauty, fitness and diet industries. Above all, I hope to bring this research to the public through such activities as workshops and coaching, thereby offering alternative ways for women and girls to relate to, heal and talk about their bodies.
Khoo, J. 2017. ‘Are We What We Wear or ‘What’s Underneath’? How Clothing Conceals or Reveals an “Authentic” Self’.Issue 42. Discover Society
Selected Conference Papers & Public Engagement Activity
Khoo, J. 2018. ‘”But Is She Pretty?” How Women Respond to Beauty Ideals’. Tree Minute Thesis, National UK competition organised by Vitae.
Winner of the People’s Choice Award
Khoo, J. 2018. ‘Breaking the Wall of Beauty Ideals’. Falling Walls Lab, Surrey.
Khoo, J. 2018. ‘Beauty and the Hidden Beasts: The Potential For Healing in the Unexpected Discussion of Sensitive Issues in Interviews’. The Promise and Perils of Researching Sensitive Issues symposium. British Sociological Association / University of York.
Khoo, J. & Gemma Gibson. 2018. ‘Empowered Bodies? A Cautious Critique of the Notion of Empowerment in Body Positivity’. Empowered Bodies conference. Department of Sociology, University of York.
Khoo, J. 2017. ‘Are We What We Wear or “What's Underneath”?’ The Space Between: Psyche, Body, Skin. Environment symposium. Fashion Research Network & Royal College of Art.
Khoo, J. 2016. ‘Me and My Gals: Female Friendships in Interviews’. 'Doing' Reflexivity in Research: Practical Approaches to Methodological Complexities postgraduateconference. University of Brighton & the British Sociological Association.
Khoo, J. 2016. ‘But Is She Pretty?: ‘Doing Beauty’ in Fashion Magazines and Online (Anti) Beauty Projects’. Aesthetic Labour colloquium. Humanities Research Centre, University of Sheffield.
Khoo, J. 2016. ‘Are You Beach Body Ready? The (Un)Changing Representations of Feminine Beauty in Contemporary Online Media’. The Modern Body 1830 – Present conference.Centre for Modern Studies, University of York.
Khoo, J. 2016. ‘Our Bodies, Our Lipstick: A Conversation About Beauty Practices and “Choice”’. Everyday Feminism Talks. Centre for Women’s Studies & York International Women’s Festival 2016.
Selected Non-Academic Publications
Khoo, J. 2018. ‘Fat People Do Not Need Your Concerns About Their Health’. The Conversation
Elle Malaysia, Mongoose Publishing (selected articles)
Khoo, J. 2016. ‘But First, Let Me Take a Selfie’.
Khoo, J. 2015. ‘My Weight is Not My Health’.
Khoo, J. 2015. ‘Keeping it Real’ (Cover story about Malaysian actress Nur Fazura).
Khoo, J. 2014. ‘I’m Not Beautiful and That’s Okay’.
Khoo, J. 2014. ‘State of the (Female) Nation’.
The Huffington Post Blogs UK
Khoo, J. 2016. ‘Why the New 'Body-Diverse' Barbies Miss the Mark Entirely’
Khoo, J. 2015. ‘Three Reasons Banning Skinny Models Isn’t the Answer’.
a beauty full mind
I established a beauty full mind website in 2016 to expand the conversations around beauty and to build a supportive ‘body positive’ online community. The website includes my own writings as well as contributions from other writers around the world.