The word 'imperfection' is contentious, whether applied in a contemporary or historical sense and especially when used in the context of children; it assumes normative standards of behaviour, physical appearance, mental capacity or way of living, at the same time as it means very different things in particular ethnic, geographical or historical contexts.
But how have concepts of 'imperfection' in children developed over the centuries? This will be the central focus of an international conference hosted by the University of Leicester's Centre for Medical Humanities on September 6 and 7.
During the conference, prominent scholars from around the world will explore the concept and language of 'imperfection' - from conception and the desire to create the perfect child to the age of sixteen.
The experts will consider topics such as mental or physical impairment, the 'look' of children, cosmetic surgery, biological or eugenic definitions of imperfection.
They will also consider the role of community, familial and societal reactions to 'imperfection', childhood 'imperfection' in literature and art, and the construction of feral youth in contemporary and historical populations.
The event aims to attract interest across the academic spectrum including from the fields of history, archaeology, art history and English through the social sciences and on to biology, engineering and physical sciences.
The conference will feature talks from international experts including Professor Irmtraut Sahmland, of Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany, Dr Wilfried Rudolff, of the University of Kassel, Germany and Shannon Conley, of Arizona State University, USA.
Centre director Professor Steven King, Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Law, said: "At a time when we have come to worry incessantly about children - about bullying; sexualisation; the absorption of body image representations in the press, dieting, an increasing demand for cosmetic surgery for children, and about cyber bullying of those who somehow look different - there is a danger of 'presentism', a sense that somehow all of these challenges are new and driven by modern media, the net and the rise of social media. Nothing could be further from the truth.