Television and Domestication of Cosmetic Surgery

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Today, there are a number of reality series on television which make over “ordinary” people. Two such US produced shows are Extreme Makeover and Nip/Tuck. Extreme Makeover aired from 2002 to 2005 was the most successful of television’s surgical reality shows and Nip/Tuck which was on air from 2003 was the first drama series about cosmetic surgery. This article by Sue Tait throws light on how cosmetic surgery advertised in television shows have played a major role in changing the thinking of women. There are celebrities out there on television, having had a number of cosmetic surgeries to their “imperfect” body part, who influence viewers thinking to a great extent. Feminists believe that women now think that a physical transformation is the route to happiness and personal empowerment. These television programmes domesticate cosmetic surgery by advertizing its positive effects and showing how these surgeries can change one’s unaesthetic looks into an appealing character. People who are not interested in altering their imperfect body parts are also pulled into this industry. LITERATURE REVIEW:

Banet-Weiser and Portwood-Stacer’s work (2006, page 257) on surgical reality television identifies post-feminism as the logic which shows “where a celebration of the body, the pleasure of transformation, and individual empowerment function as a justification for a renewed objectification of female bodies.” According to researches by Jeffreys, Morgan, Sullivan and Wolf, cosmetic surgery is dangerous Many scholars like Bordo, Davis, Gagne & McGaughey, Gillespie, Padmore and Woodstock examine the desire for surgery and the natural contradiction that giving in to hegemonic standards of beauty enables the experience of liberation. Davis argues that cosmetic surgery is not about subscribing to popular standards of beauty, but about performing a more coherent identity. It is about exercising power under conditions that are not of one’s own making. American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) in 2005 released Press statements linking the rise in surgical procedures performed in 2004 to the trend in cosmetic surgery reality television. McRobbie (2004, pg 255) refers to post-feminism as the ways in which the gains of second wave feminism are actively undermined or “undone” through popular representations which render feminism’s agenda’s as achieved and thus exhausted like films, the press, advertising etc. According to Hopkins Tanne, the show Nip/Tuck which is about two philandering male surgeons has been condemned by the ASAPS and the ASPS. Spitzack (1988, ph 40) finds it difficult to criticize cosmetic surgery as its practices are seen an “elective and empowering” and it demonstrates a desire for self love. HYPOTHESIS:

This article explores how television shows like Extreme Makeover and Nip/Tuck add to and reflect the process through which cosmetic surgery has become domesticated within escalating universal contexts. It also shows how people today are increasingly going in for cosmetic surgeries, and are happier doing it. It also analyses how Extreme Makeover impresses and controls the surgical body, and how Nip/Tuck’s description of surgical culture attempts to upset the existing cultural comfort with cosmetic appearance. FEMINIST FRAMING OF COSMETIC SURGERY:

Feminists have objected to the change in the culture to cosmetic surgery as it is dangerous, it changes the whole perception of the aging process, and it draws on old-fashioned notions to erase particular facial features. Although feminists assess the degree to which the practice of cosmetic surgery reflects on the individual’s experience of her surgical self as cosmetic surgery is understood to be a submission to patriarchal interests, many scholars disagree as they believe women who have the desire for surgery and...
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