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Sociologist’s book takes unique look at cosmetic surgery

Article-Sociologist’s book takes unique look at cosmetic surgery

Los Angeles—Plastic and cosmetic surgeons looking for a summer read might want to pick up a copy of Making the Cut: How Cosmetic Surgery Is Transforming Our Lives, written by Australian sociologist Anthony Elliott and reviewed recently in the Los Angeles Times by Mary McNamara.

According to McNamara, Elliott’s take on cosmetic surgery is that it’s become both a force in and a result of “the new, international, techno-speedy, obsolescence-included economy—an almost perfect model of how capitalism not only meets consumer needs but creates them as well.”

McNamara writes that Elliott attempts to make the case that people get cosmetic surgery “not because they are narcissists but because they are afraid, not just of losing a job to a younger colleague or a spouse to a younger competitor, but of losing the chance to engage in what has become the hottest hobby in America: reinvention.”

She writes that Elliott seems particularly disturbed by young people who view cosmetic surgery “as an accessory,” then quotes a key sentence in is book: “For better or worse, globalization has given rise to the 24/7 society, in which continual self-actualization and dramatic self-reinvention have become all the rage.”

McNamara writes that Elliott’s ultimate point is “that cosmetic surgery is a symptom of social melancholia in the strictest Freudian terms,” that she appreciates the author’s recognition of cosmetic surgery as a powerful cultural force, and that “Elliott’s writing may be stiff, but his mind works in intriguing ways.”

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