(hb; 2006: non-fiction)
From the inside flap:
"A star writer for the New York Times Styles section captures the follies, frauds, and fanaticism that fuel the American pursuit of youth and beauty in a wickedly revealing excursion into the burgeoning business of cosmetic enhancement.
"Americans are aging faster and getting fatter than any other population on the planet. At the same time, our popular notions of perfect beauty have become so strict it seems even Barbie wouldn't have a chance of making it into the local beauty paegent.
"Aging may be a natural fact of lie, but for a growing number of Americans its hallmarks -- wrinkles, love handles, jiggling flesh -- are seen as obstacles to be conquered on the path to lasting, flawless beauty. In Beauty Junkies Alex Kuczynski, whose sly wit and fearless reporting in the Times have won her fans across the country, delivers a fresh and irresistable look at America's increasingly desperate pursuitof ultimate beauty by any means necessary.
"From a group of high maintenance New York City women who devote themselves to preserving their looks twenty-four hours a day, to 'surgery safari' in South Africa complete with 'after' photographs of magically rejuvenated patients posing with wild animals, to a podiatrist's office in Manhattan where a 'foot face-lift' provides women with the right fit for their $700 Jimmy Choos, Kuczynski portrays the all-American quest for self-transformation in all its extremes. In New York, lawyers become Botox junkies in an effort to remain poker-faced. In Los Angeles, women of an uncertain age nip and tuck their most private areas so that every inch of their bodies is as taut as their lifted faces. Across the country, young women graduating from high school receive gifts of breast implants -- from their parents.
"As medicine and technology stretch the boundaries of biology, Kuczynski asks whether cosmetic surgery might even be part of human evolution, a kind of cosmetic survival of the fittest -- or firmest?"
Engaging and informative, Kuczynski shows how elective (non-necessary cosmetic) surgery went from something to be ashamed of, to something to gloat about. The author admits to her own brief addiction to elective surgery (a liposuctioned butt; Restylane for her nasolabial/upper lips), and the minor disaster(s) it created for her. She also writes about how an increasing number of patients are dying or getting sick from botched surgeries (not always the surgeons' fault), particularly the January 2004 highly-publicized death of Olivia Goldsmith, middle-aged author of the novel First Wives Club (which became a popular 1996 film).
Excellent, thought-provoking read, this. Check it out.