Paperback / softback
September 3, 1999
9780801862540
English
384
47
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
0.90 Inches (US)
1.1 Pounds (US)
$23.95 USD, £17.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Venus Envy

A History of Cosmetic Surgery

Face lifts, nose jobs, breast implants, liposuction, collagen injections—the body at the end of the twentieth century has become endlessly mutable, and surgical alteration has become an accepted part of American culture. In Venus Envy, Elizabeth Haiken traces the quest for physical perfection through surgery from the turn of the century to the present. Drawing on a wide array of sources—personal accounts, medical records, popular magazines, medical journals, and beauty guides—Haiken reveals how our culture came to see cosmetic surgery as a panacea for both individual and social problems.

About the Author

Elizabeth Haiken is an assistant professor of history at the University of British Columbia.

Reviews

Part history, part cultural/economic analysis, it explains better than anything else I've read what made American society so vulnerable to the seduction of the knife and the tyranny of visual conformity. As the idea of the perfect, ageless body becomes ever more dominant in our culture, it's important that we—especially women—understand how we've got ourselves into this mess. Venus Envy offers readable, perceptive answers.

- Sarah Dunant - The Times of London

Original, well-researched, and a pleasure to read. It constitutes an astute analysis of the modern commodification of the body and the role of the medical profession in such developments.

- Roy Porter - Times Higher Education Supplement

An informative, often engaging account of the history of cosmetic surgery in the United States.

- Parade Magazine

[A] very meaty history of plastic surgery. The relevant race and gender issues are thoroughly worked over (one chapter title: 'The Michael Jackson Factor'), and there are enough horror stories about leached silicone and Homely Girl contests to make one permanently swear off the scalpel.

- Entertainment Weekly

This book charts how millions have spent billions to enlarge or shrink body parts. Author Elizabeth Haiken has pitched a big tent. Plastic surgery embraces self-enhancement, prejudice, greed, submission and opportunity. This is about life in a democracy, where (for a price) any boy can be president and any girl can be Miss America.

- Kate Callen - San-Diego Union-Tribune

Haiken has written a humane, balanced history of cosmetic surgery, drawing with sensitivity and deftness on impressive archival sources, including surgeons' folders on prospective patients... Her book is a first-class exercise in medical history, raising intriguing questions about normalization, ideological manipulation, gender, ethnicity, and the profit motive in medicine.

- Richard Davenport-Hines - Nature

This is an important book, raising provocative questions about the ubiquity of cosmetic surgery in our culture... I'll certainly draw on its insights when counseling patients considering cosmetic surgery.

- Janet E. Shepherd, M.D. - Journal of the American Medical Association

An entertaining history and serious analysis of the tensions among professional medicine, entrepreneurial practitioners, and the mutable ideal of beauty that reminds us how unchanging is the American search for self-improvement... If Venus Envy is a history of cosmetic surgery, it is equally a political history of beauty.

- Sharon Lieberman - Women's Review of Books
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801862540 : venus-envy-haiken
Paperback / softback
384 Pages
$23.95 USD

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