Cosmetic Surgery and the Eclipse of Identity



Within feminist theory, cosmetic surgery has been viewed largely as an oppressive technology that colonizes women’s bodies in a quite literal way, directly intervening in the body to mold it in accordance with the prevalent ideals of feminine beauty. Those women who undergo cosmetic surgery for purely aesthetic reasons are regarded as victims of a patriarchal ideology in which the self-esteem of women is primarily dependent on their physical appearance. The burgeoning in the use of cosmetic surgery by women is seen to be symptomatic of the permanent sense of dissatisfaction that most women have with their physical appearance as a result of being relentlessly bombarded with images of perfection by the mass media. As such, the predominant response to such a technology by feminists has been one of rejection.1


Cosmetic Surgery Feminist Theory Individual Woman Cultural Construct Metic Surgery 
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  1. 5.
    See Rubin (1988), where the meanings of body marking practices in many different cultures from around the world are discussed.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    See Eubanks (1996) and Klesse (1999) for a more detailed critique of “modern primitivism.”Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    See Bell et al. (1994, 34–38) for a discussion of more recent versions of the “masculine” look in gay sartorial strategies.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Jean-Paul Gaultier derived his figure of the sailor from Fassbinder’s film based on Jean Genet’s book, Le querelle de brest. In using the figure of the sailor, Gaultier was exploiting the fact that the well-built sailor out for a night on the town has become not only a standard piece of port mythology, but also a staple of gay iconography, as McDowell (2001, 57) points out.Google Scholar

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© Llewellyn Negrin 2008

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