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The ease of accessibility, improvements in safety and technology, media attention, growing acceptance by the public, or an increasingly superficial culture: whatever the reason, cosmetic surgery is more popular today than ever. In 2005, in the United States alone, there were nearly two million aesthetic operations-more than quadruple the number from 1984, along with more than eight million non-surgical procedures. Innovative surgical methods have also brought cosmetic improvements to new areas of the body, such as the ribs, buttocks, and genitalia. Despite the increasing normalization of cosmetic surgery, however, there are still those who identify individuals who opt for bodily modifications as dupes of beauty culture, as being in conflict with feminist ideals, or as having some form of psychological weakness. In this ground-breaking book, Victoria Pitts-Taylor examines why we consider some cosmetic surgeries to be acceptable or even beneficial and others to be unacceptable and possibly harmful. Similarly, why are some patients considered to be psychologically healthy while others deemed pathological? When is the modification of our appearance empowering and when is it a sign of weakness? Drawing on years of research, her personal experience with cosmetic surgery, analysis of newspaper articles and television shows, and in-depth interviews with surgeons, psychiatrists, lawyers, judges, and others, Pitts-Taylor brings new perspectives to the promotion of "extreme" makeovers on television, the medicalization of "surgery addiction," the moral and political interrogation that many patients face, and feminist debates on the topic. While many feel that cosmetic surgery is a deeply personal choice and that its pathology is rooted in the individual psyche, Pitts-Taylor makes a compelling argument that the experience, meanings, and motivations for cosmetic surgery are highly social. A much needed "makeover" of our cultural understanding of cosmetic surgery, this book is both authoritative and thoroughly engaging.

Table of Contents

  1. Frontmatter
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  1. Contents
  2. p. vii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-15
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  1. Chapter 1: Visible Pathology and Cosmetic Wellness
  2. pp. 16-38
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  1. Chapter 2: Normal Extremes: Cosmetic Surgery Television
  2. pp. 39-72
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  1. Chapter 3: Miss World, Ms. Ugly: Feminist Debates
  2. pp. 73-99
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  1. Chapter 4: The Medicalization of Surgery Addiction
  2. pp. 100-127
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  1. Chapter 5: The Surgery Junkie as Legal Subject
  2. pp. 128-157
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  1. Chapter 6: The Self and the Limits of Interiority
  2. pp. 158-185
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 187-194
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 195-200
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 201-203
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  1. About the Author
  2. p. 205
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