In the mass media, a few recently-proffered opinions and opinion pieces have emerged that comment on the explosion of overdone celebrity cosmetic surgery — in Hollywood and beyond — which I believe reflects a growing, distinctly feminist critique of the practice of “selling” of the female body image in exchange for cosmetic surgery.
First, manufacturers of cosmetic/aesthetic products and purveyors of cosmetic surgery have hit upon the hot button for women, worldwide: “Your body could look better,” “Your body could look like [fill in the blank with the name of a female’s favorite celebrity]’s.” The corporate propaganda could only succeed in the present day, when it is truly possible to literally change one’s look to look like a celebrity — using the technology of plastic surgery and artistic abilities of today’s plastic surgeons.
At this point, I tend to default to an episode in William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s 1967 novel “Logan’s Run,” in which one could wander into a mall store and emerge looking like any other person you like. We are almost there in the real world.
In what actress Jamie Lee Curtis refers to below as “the surgical industrial complex,” the propaganda (read, marketing and PR) coming out of Hollywood and almost every other corner of aesthetic industry, around the globe, is telling women to feel better they must rearrange how they look.
Oh, wait… it’s all based on a cartoonish image of beauty proposed by an almost 100% male-dominated entertainment and medical industry.
Back to Jamie Lee Curtis. She is featured in the latest issue of AARP magazine, saying that she believes there is a “conspiracy” in Hollywood to make actresses have cosmetic surgery. From tribute.ca:
“Everybody is saying that to get jobs you have to dye your hair and get injectables. It’s a conspiracy, a complete catastrophe, a surgical industrial complex. Somehow we are being fed this belief that to continue on we have to do this. Yet people are being disfigured. It’s shocking what people are doing to their faces.” Curtis is adamant she will never go under the knife.
Curtis continues: “I’m getting my a*s out of this business in a few years because genetically it’s not going to work for me. There are people who, when you see them on the screen, there’s an audible gasp of, ‘Oh my God. They look terrible.’ Or they’ve done something to themselves and now look like freaks. There is only one Meryl Streep and one Sigourney Weaver. But I could name 30 other actresses in their (age) groups who aren’t working today.”
On another landscape in this debate, Kristi Scott writes in the Web site of The Institute of Ethics & Emerging Technologies: Posthuman Feminism: Thoughts on Posthumanism and Beauty
My understanding of cosmetic surgery has been opened up. Now I see it clearly as a technological choice that we have, but the main importance in understanding that adoption is its cultural effects. Cosmetic surgery is nothing new to our society, by any means; however are we studying the effects thoroughly? These effects benefit those who choose to undergo the surgery and the surgeons who are willing to offer their expertise.
This is not limited to cosmetic procedures. We have the power to take control of our bodies and we are doing this from the banal to the extreme.