Non-Fiction Books:

Reshaping the Female Body

The Dilemma of Cosmetic Surgery


Paperback / softback

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Reshaping the Female Body by Kathy Davis
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Cosmetic surgery is the fastest growing medical speciality in both the U.S. and western Europe. The surgical fix' belongs to the growing arsenal of practices and technologies which are aimed at transforming the female body for the sake of beauty.' Despite its increasing popularity, cosmetic surgery is controversial. It raises the question of why women are willing to put themselves under the knife for operations which are painful, expensive, risky and often leave them in worse shape than they were before. Reshaping the Female Body attempts to make sense of women's involvement in cosmetic surgery. Whereas traditional explanations have tended to look to female narcissism, lack of self-esteem and susceptibility to the lures of consumer capitalism and myths of eternal youth or perfect beauty, Kathy Davis situates cosmetic surgery in a feminist analysis of the cultural constraints of femininity. At the same time, however, she argues against the notion that women who have cosmetic surgery are victims of ideological manipulation, blindly complying with cultural definitions of feminine beauty. Cosmetic surgery is less about beauty than about being ordinary. Davis argues that, paradoxically, cosmetic surgery can be a way for some women to become embodied subjects who by reshaping their bodies can remake their lives. She cautions against condemning cosmetic surgery as inherently repressive and, therefore, politically incorrect,' arguing instead for an approach which accepts the unease which cosmetic surgery invokes, while taking seriously the reasons of women who see it as their only option under the circumstances. Reshaping the Female Body sees cosmetic surgery as a dilemma: both symptom and solution, oppression and liberation, all in one.
Release date NZ
February 2nd, 1995
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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