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American Plastic: Boob Jobs, Credit Cards, and Our Quest for Perfectionby Laurie Essig
Synopses & Reviews
The riveting story of how cosmetic surgery and plastic money melted together to create a subprime mortgage crisis of the body
Plastic surgery has become “the answer” for many Americans, and in American Plastic sociologist Laurie Essig explores how we arrived at this particular solution. Over the last decade there has been a 465 percent increase in cosmetic work, and we now spend over $12 billion annually on procedures like liposuction, face-lifts, tummy tucks, and boob jobs. In this fascinating book, Essig argues that this transformation is the result of massive shifts in both our culture and our economy—a perfect storm of greed, desire, and technology.
Plastic is crucial to who we are as Americans, Essig observes. We not only pioneered plastic money but lead the world in our willingness to use it. It’s estimated that 30 percent of plastic surgery patients earn less than $30,000 a year; another 41 percent earn less than $60,000. And since the average cost of cosmetic work is $8,000, a staggering 85 percent of patients assume debt to get work done. Using plastic surgery as a lens on better understanding our society, Essig shows how access to credit, medical advances, and the pressures from an image- and youth-obsessed culture have led to an unprecedented desire to “fix” ourselves.
From the Hardcover edition.
The story of how credit and cosmetic surgery have created a subprime mortgage crisis of the body.
In this provocative book, sociologist Laurie Essig traces the history of plastic surgery, tracks the effect of fashion and porn on our desire to "fix" ourselves, and explores our image- and youth-obsessed culture. In over two hundred interviews of plastic surgeons and surgery recipients, Essig creates an unforgettable portrait of contemporary America. American Plastic is a powerful and original commentary on the relationship between cosmetic surgery, credit, and culture.
Laurie Essig teaches sociology at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. She has written for a variety of publications, including Legal Affairs, Salon, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Essig's blog, Class Warfare, at True/Slant, applies critical theory from the classroom to the news of the day.
About the Author
Laurie Essig is assistant professor of sociology at Middlebury College and has written for publications ranging from Legal Affairs and Salon to the Chronicle of Higher Education. She lives in Burlington, Vermont, and Montreal.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Part I: American Plastic
1 A Short History of Plastic
2 The State of Plastic
3 Plastic People and Their Doctors
Part II: Boob Jobs and Credit Cards
4 Learning to Be Plastic: Magazines, TV, and Other Cultural Scripts
5 The Mirror and the Porn Star: Ideal Forms, osmetic Surgery, and Everyday Aesthetics
6 Broken Plastic
Part III: The Quest for Perfection
8 . . . Is Futile?
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