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Book and New Media Reviews
December 2004

Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery

Arch Dermatol. 2004;140(12):1545-1546. doi:10.1001/archderm.140.12.1545-b

Virginia Blum appears to see herself as a survivor of cosmetic surgery. But in her conceptualization, she is less a victim than a co-conspirator, alternately seduced and repelled by the promise of beauty, clinically delivered after a brief snooze under general anesthesia. Introduced to surgical enhancement at an early age when her large, broad nose, stereotypically perhaps more African or Indian than Jewish, went under the knife, she begins this book in the first person:

Certainly, a surgeon who preyed on maternal fantasies and the insecurities of young girls wasn’t about to let me go, not once he had me in his orbit. I made it clear how little I wanted this surgery. He said he would never operate against my wishes, but I should be aware that this rhinoplasty would make me beautiful. “Now,” he began impressively, “you are better looking than eight out of ten girls.” He hesitated slightly before elaborating more profoundly: “With this surgery, you will be a ten.” My mother almost exploded with vicarious narcissism.

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