From Corsets to Surgery: Remolding the Female Body


It was a cold gloomy day and Keeping up with the Kardashians was on. After getting into a good fifteen minutes of the episode I caught onto something that was thought provoking. Kris Jenner, the mother and business women in the TV show wanted to get more plastic surgery done to her breasts, but this was not the interesting part. While waiting to be consulted on her plans for surgery, Kris Jenner was looking through pornography magazines to evaluate and aspire how her breasts should look. I had never been to a plastic surgery office and only know from other TV shows that they usually mark up their clients with a big black marker to show where they will nip and tuck them. We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is culturally produced. Yet how far are we willing to go to reinforce the ideal beauty standards that dominate our culture. Beauty standards change within each decade and with the popularity of cosmetic surgery it can be reinforced.

I am not going to argue whether cosmetic surgery is right or wrong, but I do know that watching pornography movies or magazines to aspire a particular beauty standard is problematic. The norms that are behind producing beauty standards are created by all kinds of present-day media and other methods of imposing beauty standards. Shows like “Extreme Makeover” (not the home edition), or “The Swan” are ways in which the media internalizes the normalcy of going under the knife to look beautiful. When these norms become internalized, it can be often referred to as “disciplinary body practices”. These practices can vary from putting on makeup, coloring hair, shaving legs, and cosmetic surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgery report shows that in 2011 “breast augmentation has been the top cosmetic surgical procedure since 2006”. This increasing trend can also be found among women who get genital cosmetic surgery such as vaginoplasty.

We also need to keep in mind how expensive and time consuming tending to these beauty standards takes. Millions of dollars are spent by women restructuring their body while risking their health. The known risks for silicone gel filled breast implants include interfering with a mammography which can delay cancer screening results, permanent scarring, pain and stiffness felt in the muscles, etc. Yet these surgeries are still in high demand in order to meet norms on femininity and female sexuality.



One response »

  1. Pingback: Makeover Culture: The Obsession with the Perfection of Imperfection « demeliou

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s