Meet the team

Meet our international team of researchers, brought together to study physical beauty. Directed by Prof. Giselinde Kuipers, we are a team of social scientists from 5 different nationalities who have come to Leuven to study how beauty is evaluated and how it contributes to social inequality.

The team

KU Leuven history

KU Leuven is the oldest university of Belgium. In 2025, KU Leuven will celebrate its six hundredth anniversary. This makes it, together with its sister university UC Louvain, one of the oldest universities in Europe. It is also the oldest university in the Low Countries and worldwide of all existing Catholic universities. The University of Leuven was formally founded by the bull issued by Pope Martin V on December 9, 1425. The city of Leuven, with the support of Duke John IV of Brabant and the city clergy, had requested permission for the foundation.

We'd love to hear from you

We will be glad to share some of our experience with you. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line! 

Contact us

Giselinde Kuipers

Giselinde Kuipers is a sociologist who studies frivolous things and their serious consequences.  She is a research professor at the Center for Sociological Research at KU Leuven University, and the principal investigator of the BINQ project. 

Giselinde received her PhD in sociology from the University of Amsterdam (2001). She has been at KU Leuven since 2019. 

Giselinde is a cultural and comparative sociologist who  studies how cultural standards are socially shaped  in and through increasingly globalized fields, and how these standards affect social interactions, identities and inequalities. She has published widely in English, Dutch and some other languages on humor, beauty, media, transnational culture, fashion, cycling, memes, and other frivolous things with serious consequences. She has done research in various European countries, the US, Hong Kong and China.

Giselinde has been working on the sociology of beauty since 2010, when she received an ERC starting grant to study the social shaping of beauty standards in fashion modelling. This project was made into a webcomic that can be read here. For more information on Giselinde and links to her publications please see her personal website or her university website 

Sanne Pieters

Sanne Pieters is a PhD researcher in cultural sociology at KU Leuven university. Within the BINQ project, she researches beauty and inequality in Brussels, Belgium by focusing on bodywork and habitus. She holds a BSc in Sociology from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam as well an MSc in Sociology of Culture, Media and the Arts from the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. Her research takes place at the intersection of media studies and cultural sociology and her current research interests include bodywork, aesthetic labour, ideological (online) subcultures and hegemonic gender identities. Aside from working as a sociologist, Sanne is part of an art collective in The Hague, the Netherlands where she collaborates on multidisciplinary art works and publications. She lives laughs loves in Brussels.  

Emmanuel Narh

Emmanuel had his bachelor’s degree in (B.A.) Social Sciences (Economics and Sociology) and master’s degree (M.Phil.) Sociology (Thesis: ‘Mobile phone use among adolescents and its implications on routine health checkups in Cape Coast Metropolis of Ghana’) respectively, both at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana. He is currently a Ph.D. (Social Sciences) Researcher at the Center for Sociological Research – KU Leuven (KUL) – Belgium, working on the Beauty and Inequality (BINQ) project. His research interests include culture and inequality, medical sociology, and masculinities.

Wanying Zhou

Wanying is a Chinese PhD researcher who studies beauty and inequality in Hong Kong on the BINQ Project. She got her Bachelor’s degree in English from Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2021 (thesis: The influence of watching K-pop on audience’s self-identity—from a gendered perspective). 

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Master of Sociology in KU Leuven Belgium (thesis: Reconstructing beauty capital and its influence on self-identity—a case study of Chinese female students in Belgium). 

She also exchanged to Waseda University in Japan during her master program. Before she joined the team, she had working experience in local and international non-profit sector, including NGOs in China and the United Nations.  In her personal life, she enjoys dancing K-pop and travelling a lot.

Carolina Rabasa Rucki

Carolina is an Argentinian PhD candidate at KU Leuven. Currently based in Brussels, she is working within the BINQ project in her research on beauty and inequality in Buenos Aires. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy and Development from FLACSO (thesis: ‘International cooperation (EU-LA) towards a public policy for gender equality’) and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Buenos Aires (thesis: ‘Social Intervention with groups on the promotion of gender rights and equality’).  Throughout her trajectory, she has worked on topics such as women and gender rights, the justice system, early childhood, youth, and elderly social problematics, amongst others, developing her skills as a researcher and policy analyst for the University of Buenos Aires and several public ministries of Argentina.

Narges Pirhayati

Narges Pirhayati is an Iranian sociologist specializing in the sociology of beauty and its implications for social inequality. Currently, as a PhD student, she is working on the “Beauty and Inequality” project under the supervision of Dr. Giselinde Kuipers. Narges’s research primarily focuses on understanding the societal dynamics of beauty within the Iranian context. 

Having completed her Master’s degree in the sociology of law at the University of Isfahan, Narges redirected her research interests to the sociology of beauty. Her work involves examining the social and cultural dimensions of beauty in Iran and investigating how beauty standards impact individuals; experiences and contribute to patterns of inequality in society. 

With a strong commitment to advancing sociological research in Iran, Narges collaborates closely with Giselinde Kuipers to generate insights that inform and inspire positive social change.