Wellness and Pathology in Cosmetic Culture
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Rutgers University Press
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I am very grateful to all of the people who agreed to be interviewed for this book. There are also many other people who need to be thanked. They include my colleagues and friends at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York: Patricia Clough, Deidre Conlon, Paisley Currah, Mitch Duneier, Hester...
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Dr. James McCullen, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New England, believes that Lydia Manderson, one of his former patients, is a “cosmetic surgery junkie.” Dr. McCullen is a well-regarded, board-certified plastic surgeon who once specialized in reconstructive surgery of the limbs, and now devotes much of his practice...
Chapter 1: Visible Pathology and Cosmetic Wellness
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Cosmetic surgery transforms the outer, physical body, and this very fact renders it controversial. But I want to argue that the cultural, medical, and political relations of cosmetic surgery reach a great deal further than the physical, to what we think of as the self’s interior, to the identity and psyche of the subject. In this chapter, I...
Chapter 2: Normal Extremes: Cosmetic Surgery Television
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When three people in their twenties and thirties, Luke, Stephanie, and Stacey, collectively underwent over twenty-five hours of cosmetic surgery, documented in a two-hour special episode of network television, we were witnessing the beginning of a significant shift in the public discourse about cosmetic surgery. Before then...
Chapter 3: Miss World, Ms. Ugly: Feminist Debates
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While Extreme Makeover presents the possibility of whole-body surgical overhauls without a trace of addiction or pathology, many feminists have had difficulty imagining any cosmetic surgery, however major or minor, that is not both pathological and addictive. Most...
Chapter 4: The Medicalization of Surgery Addiction
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Many critics of cosmetic surgery have expressed worries that people who undergo it will become hooked, wanting more and more procedures and aiming to look ever more beautiful and young. But what it means to be hooked, and how people get that way, is becoming a...
Chapter 5: The Surgery Junkie as Legal Subject
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When cosmetic surgery is linked to mental disorder, it becomes a social problem, raising a significant set of worries for medical decision making and the public. Possible scenarios of surgical excess and addicted or obsessed patients trouble cosmetic surgeons...
Chapter 6: The Self and the Limits of Interiority
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The analysis I have presented here challenges various attempts to understand and identify the subjectivity of the cosmetic surgery patient. I argue that the hermeneutics of the self around which cosmetic surgery culture turns are themselves expressions of power relations. In this chapter, I address the implications of this...
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About the Author
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Victoria Pitts-Taylor received her PhD from Brandeis University and is an associate professor of sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of In the Flesh: the Cultural Politics of Body Modification (2003), as well as many articles...
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2007