Flesh Wounds

Flesh Wounds

The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery

Book - 2003
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University of California Press
"An impressive book. An important book."--Jamie Lee Curtis

"I blame mirrors. If it weren't for them we wouldn't need plastic surgeons. In the meantime, anyone tempted to re-shape face, body and mind by means of knife should first read Blum's intelligent, persuasive and absorbing book. Both enticed and alarmed, the reader will at least know what she's doing and more importantly why. This is a book that takes you and shakes you by the throat, and leaves you the better for it."--Fay Weldon, author of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil

"An eye-opening look at the dangers, both physical and emotional, of plastic surgery and of the power of beauty in all of our lives. Blum's book is an impressive interweaving of observation, oral interviews, cultural studies, and historical sources. An absorbing read, this is a scholarly book that general readers can enjoy."--Lois Banner, author of American Beauty

"A provocative and thoroughly persuasive argument that we live in a culture of cosmetic surgery where identity is sited on the shifting surfaces of the body. Flesh Wounds brilliantly explores the link between the seductions of surgical self-fashioning and the star system, drawing on a stunning array of materials ranging from interviews with plastic surgeons, psychoanalytic theory, and the novel to the visual media of digital photography, film, and television."--Kathleen Woodward, author of Aging and Its Discontents: Freud and Other Fictions

When did cosmetic surgery become a common practice, the stuff of everyday conversation? In a work that combines a provocative ethnography of plastic surgery and a penetrating analysis of beauty and feminism, Virginia L. Blum searches out the social conditions and imperatives that have made ours a culture of cosmetic surgery. From diverse viewpoints, ranging from cosmetic surgery patient to feminist cultural critic, she looks into the realities and fantasies that have made physical malleability an essential part of our modern-day identity.

For a cultural practice to develop such a tenacious grip, Blum argues, it must be fed from multiple directions: some pragmatic, including the profit motive of surgeons and the increasing need to appear young on the job; some philosophical, such as the notion that a new body is something you can buy or that appearance changes your life. Flesh Wounds is an inquiry into the ideas and practices that have forged such a culture. Tying the boom in cosmetic surgery to a culture-wide trend toward celebrity, Blum explores our growing compulsion to emulate what remain for most of us two-dimensional icons. Moving between personal experiences and observations, interviews with patients and surgeons, and readings of literature and cultural moments, her book reveals the ways in which the practice of cosmetic surgery captures the condition of identity in contemporary culture.


Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c2003
ISBN: 9780520217232
0520217233
Characteristics: x, 356 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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