Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery

Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery

by Sander L. Gilman
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691070539

ISBN-13: 9780691070537

Pub. Date: 10/23/2000

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Nose reconstructions have been common in India for centuries. South Korea, Brazil, and Israel have become international centers for procedures ranging from eyelid restructuring to buttock lifts and tummy tucks. Argentina has the highest rate of silicone implants in the world. Around the globe, aesthetic surgery has become a cultural and medical fixture. Sander

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Overview

Nose reconstructions have been common in India for centuries. South Korea, Brazil, and Israel have become international centers for procedures ranging from eyelid restructuring to buttock lifts and tummy tucks. Argentina has the highest rate of silicone implants in the world. Around the globe, aesthetic surgery has become a cultural and medical fixture. Sander Gilman seeks to explain why by presenting the first systematic world history and cultural theory of aesthetic surgery. Touching on subjects as diverse as getting a "nose job" as a sweet-sixteen birthday present and the removal of male breasts in seventh-century Alexandria, Gilman argues that aesthetic surgery has such universal appeal because it helps people to "pass," to be seen as a member of a group with which they want to or need to identify.

Gilman begins by addressing basic questions about the history of aesthetic surgery. What surgical procedures have been performed? Which are considered aesthetic and why? Who are the patients? What is the place of aesthetic surgery in modern culture? He then turns his attention to that focus of countless human anxieties: the nose. Gilman discusses how people have reshaped their noses to repair the ravages of war and disease (principally syphilis), to match prevailing ideas of beauty, and to avoid association with negative images of the "Jew," the "Irish," the "Oriental," or the "Black." He examines how we have used aesthetic surgery on almost every conceivable part of the body to try to pass as younger, stronger, thinner, and more erotic. Gilman also explores some of the extremes of surgery as personal transformation, discussing transgender surgery, adult circumcision and foreskin restoration, the enhancement of dueling scars, and even a performance artist who had herself altered to resemble the Mona Lisa.

The book draws on an extraordinary range of sources. Gilman is as comfortable discussing Nietzsche, Yeats, and Darwin as he is grisly medical details, Michael Jackson, and Barbra Streisand's decision to keep her own nose. The book contains dozens of arresting images of people before, during, and after surgery. This is a profound, provocative, and engaging study of how humans have sought to change their lives by transforming their bodies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691070537
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/23/2000
Pages:
424
Sales rank:
980,715
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xvii

CHAPTER ONE: Judging by Appearances 3

What Is Aesthetic Surgery? 3

Why Is It Aesthetic Surgery? 8

Remaking the Self 16

"Passing" 21

Criminal Bodies 26

Gender Questions 31

"Before and After" 36

CHAPTER TWO: Victory over Disease 42

Amy and the Princess 42

The Syphilitic Nose 49

The Strange Case of Tristram Shandy 60

Renaissance Noses 66

A Cure from the Colonies 73

CHAPTER THREE: The Racial Nose 85

Enlightenment Noses 85

The Jewish Nose 88

Irish Noses 91

"Oriental" Noses-and Eyes 98

Black into White ill

CHAPTER FOUR: Marks of Honor and Dishonor 119

Character Inscribed on the Face 119

Too-Jewish Ears and Noses 124

The Telltale Foreskin 137

Greek Ideals 144

CHAPTER FIVE: Noses at War 157

Fixing Shattered Faces 157

Patriotic Noses and Weimar Surgery 169

Nazi Noses 177

CHAPTER SIX: Assimilation in the Promised Lands 186

Helping Jews Become Americans 186

The Israeli Experience 199

The Importance of Being Barbra 202

CHAPTER SEVEN: After the Nose 206

Erotic Bodies 206

Buttocks Have Meaning 210

Big Breasts and Bellies 218

Small Breasts — No Breasts? 237

CHAPTER EIGHT: The Wrong Body 258

Men with Breasts 258

Transsexual Surgery 268

The First Cut Is the Deepest 288

CHAPTER NINE: Dreams of Youth and Beauty 295

Beauty and Age 295

Post-Aesthetic Bodies 319

CONCLUSION: "Passing" as Human 329

Notes 335

Index 385

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