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.
Apparently I look like a grown-up, but you wouldn’t think so if you’d just seen me barely able to breathe for laughing at pictures of a knitted squid attacking a cat.
What’s that? Why, yes, I am procrastinating when I’m meant to be doing something proper and grown up.
I think squidsquid is the most charming site I’ve seen in a while. You can find out your squid name (mia the salty ocean-dweller!), find out if you are part squid and various other things.
This BBC article, ‘I love my new C cup breasts‘, which reads like a PR piece about a site that ‘makes the UK’s top plastic surgeons available at prices women like unemployed Lucy can afford’ really disturbs me. The article doesn’t question why women who can’t even afford to pay full price for it should want invasive surgery, and although one of the final paragraphs says:
“She certainly looked much more self confident, she had changed her hair style and her previous stoop and round shoulderedness had been replaced with a more confident upright appearance.”
there’s no discussion of whether there are non-surgical ways to make someone feel more self-confident that should be considered before surgery.
Perhaps ironically, this article was also on the BBC site today: Breast implant website condemned
A website where women can raise cash for breast implants using personal photos is unsafe and degrading, say UK cosmetic surgeons.
The implants are paid for by male “benefactors” who, for a fee, can access the women’s personal profiles, pictures and contact details.
Adam Searle, consultant plastic surgeon and former president of the BAAPS, said: “This is really quite shocking. The invitation for women to post suggestive photos, sell personal items and chat with strangers over the Internet in exchange for a breast augmentation is just plain degrading.”
I find it shocking, and really horrible, but then I also find a cut-price charity boob job website shocking.
(I managed not to make any jokes about BAAPS)
As the Catholic church gets more stupid (Vatican cardinal calls on Catholics to stop funding Amnesty) I discover just in time that it’s possible to become officially un-Catholic.
Random but funny (if you’re a geek): The Lonely Mathematician.
From the depths of the internet, lists of unusual and lost words.
The National Gallery is “hanging 44 full-size recreations on walls ranging from Hamleys toy shop (a Seurat) to a sex shop in Soho (a Caravaggio) to give Londoners a taste of what it offers.” (more)
Wired: Suddenly, the Paranoids Don’t Seem So Paranoid Anymore
Have you noticed? We’ve become a people that no longer respects, or apparently desires, privacy. Our own or anybody else’s.
That’s a remarkable thing, when you stop to think about it. We Americans, historically, have fiercely guarded our personal privacy. It’s one of our defining characteristics. Others, who live in societies where personal privacy isn’t so easily taken for granted, have looked on with a mixture of admiration and bemusement. “Mind your own business” is a singularly American expression.
I’m not sure about the last statement, but generally, I’m glad to see this article. I’m not sure how or when the onus switched from the need to show why a loss of privacy was necessary to the need to show why privacy is important and necessary, but it annoys me.
When did privacy go from being a right to just barely being a privilege we’re allowed?