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Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery

Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery
Author: Virginia L. Blum
ISBN 13: 9780520244733
ISBN 10: 520244737
Edition: 1
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2005-04-04
Format: Paperback
Pages: 366
List Price: $29.95

"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

Publishers Weekly

When Blum was a teenager, her mother convinced her to have rhinoplastic surgery; since it might increase her daughter's marriage-market value, it seemed to her mother irresponsible not to. A botched job resulted in further corrections, Blum's incurable addiction to surgery-and this book. As an English professor at the University of Kentucky and admitted participant in the culture of perfective surgery, Blum manages the language of media theory and In Style magazine with equal aptitude. As face lifts and tummy tucks become increasingly affordable to middle-class Americans, Blum argues, even those who have never considered the knife cannot escape cosmetic surgery's implications and its pervasive promotion by everyone from doctors to those who play them on TV. Having interviewed numerous plastic surgeons, Blum shows how they promise to reveal one's "authentic" inner self by unmooring that self from its current physical expression. Blum suggests that our pursuit of a superior "after picture" arises from our identification with two-dimensional stars of page and screen: celebrity culture's mirror stage. But as surgeons promise to harmonize the patient's eternally youthful self-image with a traitorous aging body, they obfuscate the actual, unattainable object of desire: not one's own lost figure, but the image of the star (itself often surgically maintained). According to Blum, such confusions bring either repeated surgeries or aggression toward celebrity bodies (witness our tabloid fascination with stars' surgery, and Internet games like Smack Pamela Anderson). While Blum's claim that "little by little, we are all becoming movie stars-internally framed by the camera eye" might seem unduly cataclysmic, even "non-surgical" women may value her honest probing of the paradoxical sense that "I am my body and yet I own my body." 18 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.