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Unformatted text preview: Skintight An Anatomy of Cosmetic Surgery Meredith Jones ~BERG Oxford New York Introduction Instances of cosmetic surgery have risen' and our perceptions of it have changed dramatically in the past decade. No longer a bizarre indulgence for the rich, famous or narcissistic, cosmetic surgery has become an everyday practice that popular media tell us we 'deserve'. It is even presented as something that will enable our 'true selves' to emerge. For some, it is an aesthetic and cultural imperative. Television pro- grammes like the USA's Extreme Makeover and the UK's Ten Years Younger go so far as to present it as an activity that requires bravery and courage: cosmetic surgery in these contexts is an indication of self-determination and triumph over physical misfortune or signs of ageing. So connected has cosmetic surgery become to notions of mental well-being that one critic calls it 'scalpel psychiatry' (Jordan, 2004: 333). One of the characters (a cosmetic surgeon) in the hugely successful television drama NiplTuck declares that 'sometimes giving a person a nose job changes their life in more profound ways than a lifetime of mood controllers' (Christian, Episode 3, Series 1). Recently there have been profound shifts in how we see cosmetic surgery- the aim of this book is to examine them. People in poorer parts of the globe are not immune to the lure and effects of cosmetic surgery. Late in 2005 Nigeria went into national mourning because Stella Obasanjo, the 59-year-old wife of the president, died after a cosmetic surgery operation in Spain. In 2004, 22-year-old Feng Qian won a national competition in Beijing and was crowned the world's first 'Miss Artificial Beauty' - far from being a bimbo she is now studying to be a plastic surgeon. In Iran the Grand Ayatollah Saanei informs Shi'ite Muslims via an advisory website that if a spet says that breast implants and liposuction are not harmful to the patient then they are permitted within Islamic law. Cosmetic surgery is more than surgical technology, more than medical discipline. It has deep symbolic meaning and rich cultural connotations; throughout this book I argue that it is a vital part of what I call 'makeover culture'. Broadly, I suggest that in makeover culture the process of becoming something better is more important than achieving a static point of completion. 'Good citizens' of makeover culture publicly enact urgent and never-ending renovations of themselves. I argue that cosmetic surgery is makeover culture's quintessential expression. I use many discursive and concrete examples to explore the cultural aspects of cosmetic surgery; most are examined using feminist and cultural studies approaches....
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- Spring '07
- Tess of the d'Urbervilles