Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery

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Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 - Health & Fitness - 370 pages

"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

"What makes Venus Envy such an enthralling read is that alongside a host of macabre and 'no--really!' stories... there is a hugely intelligent and perceptive analysis of American culture and history going on."--London Times

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.

"An informative, often engaging account of the history of cosmetic surgery in the United States."--Parade Magazine

"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

"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

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VENUS ENVY: A History of Cosmetic Surgery

User Review  - Kirkus

An entertaining and enlightening history of how the practice of cosmetic surgery has been shaped by the priorities and demands of 20th-century American culture as much as by those of the medical ... Read full review

Venus envy: a history of cosmetic surgery

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Haiken (history,. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville) tracks the evolution of plastic surgery in America from early attempts during World War I to the numerous varieties of cosmetic surgery available today ... Read full review


INTRODUCTION Present at the ReCreation
THREE Consumer Culture and the Inferiority
six Beauty and the Breast

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About the author (1997)

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

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