In Reshaping the Female Body: The Dilemma of Cosmetic Surgery, Kathy Davis upended the common sense view that people undergo plastic surgery because they want to be beautiful or handsome. Instead, she found that most people sought cosmetic correction because they felt ugly or strange. They didn’t want to be great-looking, or even good-looking, they wanted to be normal, unremarkable, to blend in with the crowd.
I thought of Davis’ book when I scrolled through Zed Nelson‘s photographic commentary on beauty, Love Me, sent in by zeynaparsel. There’s a lot to see there, but here I’ve pulled out some of the pictures that I think resonate with Davis’ findings.
“I’m competing with men 20 years younger than me.”
“To be honest I never thought that I needed it [labiaplasty]. But I read about the procedure in a magazine.”
“Men’s Health magazine (USA) hasn‘t had a hairy chest on it’s cover since 1995.”
Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
L'homme Nikita — September 14, 2011
I'd be interested to see this compared to the FFS transwomen get.
MissDisco — September 14, 2011
many years ago i heard about a girl who went through a leg lengthening operation so she could be tall enough to be an air stewardess. I don't know why the hell no one referred her to a psych or careers guidance - air stewardess, really? That's all you want to be? But I hope she did go and be one after all that nonsense
Tiny_horse — September 15, 2011
I love that last photo of the man "post-chest wax." So often it's a woman who's the subject of the picture, and she's looking at herself, personifying Vanity. Men are no less vain, and no less subject to the Patriarchy.
For want of beauty « Creon Critic — September 15, 2011
[...] we have”, reaction. I came across Nelson’s work via a Sociological Images post by Lisa Wade, Cosmetic Surgery and Being Normal. Wade connects the collection of photographs with the work of Kathy Davis, Wade writes, In [...]
Korean Gender Reader « The Grand Narrative — September 17, 2011
[...] that once bought brand items to fit in the crowd are now buying them to stand out instead; and Sociological Images on how most cosmetic surgery patients in the US undergo procedures because they felt ugly or [...]
Ruth — September 18, 2011
Its hard sometimes to describe the distinction between normalising yourself to other people and normalising yourself to yourself. For example I would love to have certain cosmetic procedures (mostly thread-vein removal from my face and legs) because they make me very self-concious and I would like to just have normal skin. Most people though are unlikely to notice them though, especially if I wear fake tan.
asian cosmetic surgery — January 26, 2012
As they say, whenever you opt for cosmetic surgery, you need to talk to people whom you trusted or a psychologist perhaps to insure that you are not doing the cosmetic surgery procedure for not just today but for life. since when the deed is done, its done.