Guardian: Most British women now expect to have cosmetic surgery in their lifetime. How did the ultimate feminist taboo become just another lifestyle choice?

A practice widely regarded not a decade ago as physically risky, morally doubtful, prohibitively expensive and socially embarrassing has been rebranded as something so innocuous and sensible as to be mundane.

For a large part of the 20th century, patients who wanted cosmetic surgery would generally have been recommended therapy, their desires interpreted as an indication of pathology.

When cosmetic patients talk about their bodies, dissociation is a recurring theme, as though they no longer inhabit their own skin.

By identifying with actresses and models and pop stars – people who really are judged on their looks – women exchange a three-dimensional identity for an image, and life becomes an unending audition, involving all the anxiety and rejection of Pop Idol.

Feminism would once have expected to offer a viable alternative, but its unresolved attitude to beauty has created an ideological vacuum.

For all the rhetoric of “individual choice”, surgery is a symptom of something much larger than the body – of faulty self-identity and celebrity obsession, and the transfer of moral authority from disinterested health professionals to the commercial media.

It’s not a new article – it was published in 2005, but given the BBC articles that suggest breast implants are now uncritcally mainstream, I think it’s timely.

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