Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

For their early support, I am grateful to my teachers and mentors at the University of Illinois at Chicago: Clark Hulse, Peggy McCracken, James Sosnoski, Michael Lieb, and Donald Marshall. The Department of English at Florida Atlantic University provided me the time and encouragement so essential to this project. James Peltz, Kelli Williams, and the SUNY Press staff ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Feminist critics have been particularly vocal about the fortunes and misfortunes of body-image conformity. Their concerns establish many of the questions that continue to occupy us in the early twenty-first century, as the aesthetic surgical industry’s prominence and influence upon prevailing conceptions and narratives of body image become increasingly widespread. In this ...

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CHAPTER 1. Abjection

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pp. 17-34

For Julia Kristeva, the intolerable, or abject, body leaks wastes and fluids, in violation of the desire and hope for the “clean and proper” body, thus making the boundaries and limitations of our selfhood ambiguous, and indicating our physical wasting and ultimate death. In her view, human and animal wastes such as feces, urine, vomit, tears, and saliva are repulsive because they test the ...

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CHAPTER 2. Normalizing the Body

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pp. 35-54

The “clean and proper body” is a condition for our ability to be articulate subjects in the social world; however, the orderliness and stability of this body are always under threat, and always illusory: “The more or less beautiful image in which I behold or recognize myself rests upon an abjection that sunders it as soon as repression, the constant watchman, is relaxed” (Powers 13). A form of...

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CHAPTER 3. Outside-In

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pp. 55-64

Abjection is at once a psychological, emotional, and physical phenomenon,which—in the case of, say, my repulsion at the sagging, wrinkled skin on my face and neck—involves the tension between the reality of an unruly semiotic (body) and the desire for an orderly symbolic (mind), along with the interanimation of reality and desire that keep the semiotic and symbolic, body and ...

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CHAPTER 4. "I'm Doing It for Me"

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pp. 65-82

The transformation of abject realities into tidy materializations of conventional, individualistic, bourgeois desire and belief finds a willing medium in turn-of-the-century television, which, while it has always been absorbed with the packaging of reality,1 turns increasingly to “reality” shows during the first part of this century, in which the camera watches nonactors living out parts of ...

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CHAPTER 5. Making Over Abjection

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pp. 83-104

In 2000, the Oprah Winfrey Show had been the most popular program on daytime television for thirteen years (Twardowski 30, Squire 98), with its star an established cultural icon who, like Elvis and the Beatles, has become the subject of university courses studying her influence. At the same time that Oprah Winfrey, as a black woman, belongs to the gender and race groupings ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 105-112

Through many venues—trade books, advertisements, reality television, web pages, talk shows, magazines—the aesthetic surgical imaginary (which is now so pervasive that it may inform all media all the time) has created responses to the charges voiced by second-wave feminism that commercialized beauty objectifies and commodifies the body. This is accomplished, as we see in ...

Notes

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pp. 113-136

Works Cited

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pp. 137-148

Index

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pp. 149-152