Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery

Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery

By: Sander L. Gilman (author)Paperback

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Nose reconstructions have been common in India for centuries. South Korea, Brazil, and Israel have become international centers for procedures ranging from eyelid restructuring to buttock lifts and tummy tucks. Argentina has the highest rate of silicone implants in the world. Around the globe, aesthetic surgery has become a cultural and medical fixture. Sander Gilman seeks to explain why by presenting the first systematic world history and cultural theory of aesthetic surgery. Touching on subjects as diverse as getting a "nose job" as a sweet-sixteen birthday present and the removal of male breasts in seventh-century Alexandria, Gilman argues that aesthetic surgery has such universal appeal because it helps people to "pass," to be seen as a member of a group with which they want to or need to identify. Gilman begins by addressing basic questions about the history of aesthetic surgery. What surgical procedures have been performed? Which are considered aesthetic and why? Who are the patients? What is the place of aesthetic surgery in modern culture? He then turns his attention to that focus of countless human anxieties: the nose. Gilman discusses how people have reshaped their noses to repair the ravages of war and disease (principally syphilis), to match prevailing ideas of beauty, and to avoid association with negative images of the "Jew," the "Irish," the "Oriental," or the "Black." He examines how we have used aesthetic surgery on almost every conceivable part of the body to try to pass as younger, stronger, thinner, and more erotic. Gilman also explores some of the extremes of surgery as personal transformation, discussing transgender surgery, adult circumcision and foreskin restoration, the enhancement of dueling scars, and even a performance artist who had herself altered to resemble the Mona Lisa. The book draws on an extraordinary range of sources. Gilman is as comfortable discussing Nietzsche, Yeats, and Darwin as he is grisly medical details, Michael Jackson, and Barbra Streisand's decision to keep her own nose. The book contains dozens of arresting images of people before, during, and after surgery. This is a profound, provocative, and engaging study of how humans have sought to change their lives by transforming their bodies.

About Author

Sander L. Gilman is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago; he is also Director of the Humanities Laboratory there. He is the author or editor of over fifty books, including Seeing the Insane, Jewish Self-Hatred, The Jew's Body, Hysteria: A New History, and Freud, Race, and Gender (Princeton).


List of Illustrations ix Preface xvii CHAPTER ONE: Judging by Appearances 3 What Is Aesthetic Surgery? 3 Why Is It Aesthetic Surgery? 8 Remaking the Self 16 "Passing" 21 Criminal Bodies 26 Gender Questions 31 "Before and After" 36 CHAPTER TWO: Victory over Disease 42 Amy and the Princess 42 The Syphilitic Nose 49 The Strange Case of Tristram Shandy 60 Renaissance Noses 66 A Cure from the Colonies 73 CHAPTER THREE: The Racial Nose 85 Enlightenment Noses 85 The Jewish Nose 88 Irish Noses 91 "Oriental" Noses-and Eyes 98 Black into White ill CHAPTER FOUR: Marks of Honor and Dishonor 119 Character Inscribed on the Face 119 Too-Jewish Ears and Noses 124 The Telltale Foreskin 137 Greek Ideals 144 CHAPTER FIVE: Noses at War 157 Fixing Shattered Faces 157 Patriotic Noses and Weimar Surgery 169 Nazi Noses 177 CHAPTER SIX: Assimilation in the Promised Lands 186 Helping Jews Become Americans 186 The Israeli Experience 199 The Importance of Being Barbra 202 CHAPTER SEVEN: After the Nose 206 Erotic Bodies 206 Buttocks Have Meaning 210 Big Breasts and Bellies 218 Small Breasts -- No Breasts? 237 CHAPTER EIGHT: The Wrong Body 258 Men with Breasts 258 Transsexual Surgery 268 The First Cut Is the Deepest 288 CHAPTER NINE: Dreams of Youth and Beauty 295 Beauty and Age 295 Post-Aesthetic Bodies 319 CONCLUSION: "Passing" as Human 329 Notes 335 Index 385

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780691070537
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 424
  • ID: 9780691070537
  • weight: 539
  • ISBN10: 0691070539
  • translations: English
  • language of text: English

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