Summary and Info
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.