Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery

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9780801857638: Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery
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"Haiken has written a humane, balanced history of cosmetic surgery, drawing with sensitivity and deftness on impressive archival sources, including surgeons' folders on prospective patients... Her book is a first-class exercise in medical history, raising intriguing questions about normalization, ideological manipulation, gender, ethnicity, and the profit motive in medicine."--Richard Davenport-Hines, Nature

"What makes Venus Envy such an enthralling read is that alongside a host of macabre and 'no--really!' stories... there is a hugely intelligent and perceptive analysis of American culture and history going on."--London Times

Face lifts, nose jobs, breast implants, liposuction, collagen injections -- the body at the end of the twentieth century has become endlessly mutable, and surgical alteration has become an accepted part of American culture. In Venus Envy, Elizabeth Haiken traces the quest for physical perfection through surgery from the turn of the century to the present. Drawing on a wide array of sources -- personal accounts, medical records, popular magazines, medical journals, and beauty guides -- Haiken reveals how our culture came to see cosmetic surgery as a panacea for both individual and social problems.

"An informative, often engaging account of the history of cosmetic surgery in the United States."--Parade Magazine

"Original, well-researched, and a pleasure to read. It constitutes an astute analysis of the modern commodification of the body and the role of the medical profession in such developments." -- Roy Porter, Times Higher Education Supplement

"This is an important book, raising provocative questions about the ubiquity of cosmetic surgery in our culture... I'll certainly draw on its insights when counseling patients considering cosmetic surgery."--Janet E. Shepherd, M.D., Journal of the American Medical Association

"An entertaining history and serious analysis of the tensions among professional medicine, entrepreneurial practitioners, and the mutable ideal of beauty that reminds us how unchanging is the American search for self-improvement... If Venus Envy is a history of cosmetic surgery, it is equally a political history of beauty."--Sharon Lieberman, Women's Review of Books

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"Cosmetic Surgery lies at the nexus of medicine and consumer culture," says University of Tennessee historian Elizabeth Haiken. In Venus Envy , she looks at this peculiarly American medical specialty as it developed over the 20th century. Doctors wanted power and control, to only perform surgery for medical reasons, while patients--or consumers--wanted to alter their appearance as they saw fit, without much regard for the usual standards of medical necessity. Haiken documents this struggle in scientific debate, medical records, women's magazines, and the faces of celebrities like Fanny Brice, Michael Jackson, and Cher. In the end, cosmetic surgery has become an accepted tool in the American drive toward self-definition. "Surgeons and patients are confident that, by altering individual facial configurations, cosmetic surgery can confer a wide range of benefits that together add up to the American dream--and they are right."

Book Description:

The surprising history of cosmetic surgery -- and America's quest for physical perfection -- from the turn of the century to the present.

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9780801862540: Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery

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ISBN 10:  080186254X ISBN 13:  9780801862540
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000
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