Modern technologies sanction a new plasticity of physical form. However, the increasing global popularity of aesthetic procedures (re)produces normative beauty ideals in terms of perfection and symmetry. These conditions limit the semblance of freedom by people to control their own bodies. Cultural emancipation may come from principles in Eastern philosophy. These reveal beauty in authenticity, including imperfection. Wabi-sabi acclaims beauty in common irregularity, while kintsugi celebrates beauty in visible signs of repair, like scars. These principles resist pressure to medicalize dissatisfaction with healthy bodies and invite multi-sited interventions to educate taste and aesthetic choices.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Similar content being viewed by others
Banales, Victoria. 2005. “The Face Value of Dreams: Gender, Race, Class, and the Politics of Cosmetic Surgery.” In Beyond the Frame: Women of Color and Visual Representation, edited by Neferti Tadier and Angela Davis, 131-152. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Bear, Adam and Paul Bloom. 2016. "A Simple Task Uncovers a Postdictive Illusion of Choice." Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616641943.
Blum Virginia. 2007. "Objects of Love: I Want a Famous Face and the Illusions of Star Culture." Configurations 15:33-53.
Burris, Robert, Hannah Rowland, and Anthony Little. 2009. "Facial Scarring Enhances Men's Attractiveness for Short-term Relationships." Personality and Individual Differences 46:213-217.
Buetow, Stephen. 2016. Person-centred Health Care: Balancing the Welfare of Clinicians and Patients. Oxford, Routledge.
Clarke, Adele, Shim, Janet, Mamo, Laura, Fosket, and Jennifer Fishman. 2003. "Biomedicalization: Technoscientific Transformation of Health, Illness, and U.S. Biomedicine." American Sociological Review 68: 161-194.
Conrad, Peter. 2008. "Medicalization: Changing Contours, Characteristics, and Contexts." In Medical Sociology on the Move, edited by William Cockerham, 195-214. Dordrecht: Springer.
Gruen, Russell, Pearson, Steven and Troyen Brennan. 2004. "Physician Citizens--Public Roles and Professional Obligations." Journal of the American Medical Association 291:94-98.
Gruen Russell, Campbell Eric and David Blumenthal. 2006. "Public Roles of US Physicians. Community Participation, Political Involvement, and Collective Advocacy." Journal of the American Medical Association 296: 2467-2475.
Gugenheim, Hélène. 2015. "Mes cicatrices Je suis d'elles, entierèment tissé." Accessed 9 January 2017. http://helenegugenheim.com/?p=4.
Hemingway, Ernest. 1929. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner.
Hooker, Claire, and Estelle Noonan. 2011. "Medical Humanities as Expressive of Western Culture." Medical Humanities 37:79-84.
ISAPS. 2015. International Survey on Aesthetics/cosmetic Procedures Performed in 2015. Accessed 22 June 2017. https://www.isaps.org/Media/Default/global-statistics/2016%20ISAPS%20Results.pdf.
Jha, Meeta. 2016. The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism, and the National Body. Oxford: Routledge.
Khalid, Abeer and Carlos Quiñonez, C. 2015. "Straight, White Teeth as a Social Prerogative." Sociology of Health and Illness 37:782-796.
Malins, Joseph. 1895. "The Ambulance down in the Valley." Accessed 20 June 2017. http://www.personal.kent.edu/~lyoo/fence.htm.
McManus, Chris. 2005. "Symmetry and Asymmetry in Aesthetics and the Arts." European Review 13 (2): 157-180.
Morgan, Daniel, Sanket Dhruva, Scott Wright, and Deborah Korenstein. 2015. "Update on Medical Practices that should be Questioned in 2015." JAMA Internal Medicine 175:1960-1964.
O'Brien, Mary, Guy Thorburn, Anna Sibbel-Linz, and Alan McGregor. 2006. "Consent for Plastic Surgical Procedures." Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery 59:983-989.
Parens, Erik. 2000. "Is better always good? 'The Enhancement Project.'" In: Enhancing Human Traits and Social Implications, edited by Erik Parens, 1-28. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Pitts-Taylor, Victoria. 2009. "Medicine, Governmentality and Biopower in Cosmetic Surgery." In The Legal, Medical and Cultural Regulation of the Body, edited by Stephen Smith and Ronan Deazly, 159-170. London: Routledge.
Skuse, L. 2016, "New GMC Guidance for Doctors carrying out Cosmetic Surgery." 28 April. Accessed 9 January 2017. http://www.michelmores.com/news-views/news/new-gmc-guidance-doctors-carrying-out-cosmetic-surgery.
Stafford, Barbara, John La Puma and David Schiedermayer. 1989. "One Face of Beauty, one Picture of Health: The Hidden Aesthetic of Medical Practice." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 14:213-230.
Sullivan, Deborah. 2004. Cosmetic Surgery: The Cutting Face of Commerical Medicine in America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Taylor, Paul. 2016. Black is Beautiful. A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Tembeck, Tamar. 2008. "Exposed Wounds: The Photographic Autopathographies of Hannah Wilke and Jo Spence." RACAR 23:87-101.
Thomas, Carolyn. 2016. "Heart Sisters. Learning to Love your Open Heart Surgery Scar." Accessed 9 January 2017. http://myheartsisters.org/2012/10/26/love-your-scars/.
Yun, In Sik, Yoo, Han-Su Kim, Yong Oock, and Dong Kyun Rah. 2013. "Improved Scar Appearance with combined use of Silicone Gel and Vitamin C for Asian Patients: A Comparative Case Series." Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 37:1176-1181.