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Cosmetic surgery and the eclipse of identity


Negrin, L, Cosmetic surgery and the eclipse of identity, Body and Society, 8, (4) pp. 21-42. ISSN 1357-034X (2002) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1177/1357034X02008004002


Recently, there has been a shift in attitude among some feminists towards the practice of cosmetic surgery away from that of outright rejection. Kathy Davis, for instance, offers a guarded `defence' of the practice as a strategy that enables women to exercise a degree of control over their lives in circumstances where there are very few other opportunities for self-realization. Others, such as Kathryn Morgan, Anne Balsamo and Orlan, though highly critical of the current practice of cosmetic surgery, go even further than Davis in advocating its redeployment as a tool to subvert the dominant patriarchal ideals of feminine beauty. In this article I critically appraise this `rehabilitation' of cosmetic surgery, arguing, in the case of Davis, that she leaves unchallenged the social structures of inequality responsible for women's dissatisfaction with their bodies. The proposal to use cosmetic surgery as a tool of political critique is equally problematic insofar as it shares with the cosmetic industry its instrumentalization of the body as mere matter, which is almost infinitely transformable, and also effaces the economic inequalities within which such body transformations occur.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:body modification female beauty Orlan
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Visual arts
Research Field:Visual arts not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Arts
Objective Field:The creative arts
UTAS Author:Negrin, L (Dr Llewellyn Negrin)
ID Code:24782
Year Published:2002
Deposited By:Art (Hobart)
Deposited On:2002-08-01
Last Modified:2013-03-05
Downloads:19 View Download Statistics

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