Critique Essay: Cosmetic Surgery And Individual Identity

1458 words - 6 pages

Summary:Elizabeth Haiken, "The Making of the Modern Face: Cosmetic Surgery," Social Research, Spring 2000. The American culture that produced cosmetic surgery is the increasingly visual, psychologically influenced culture of the twentieth century United States. For those surgeons who perform cosmetic surgery, the relationship between the physical face and the construction of individual identity has always been and continues to be central. "In our modern twentieth century United States, our attitudes toward cosmetic surgery have been based on a series of assumptions: that inside every person who looks different is an American struggling to get out; that inside every homely girl a confid ...view middle of the document...

She goes on to discuss the future stating, "Imagine a not too distant future, in which babies are made to order, down to the size of their noses and the longevity of their hairlines, a future in which post birth alteration is remembered nostalgically as the primitive practice of well-meaning but technologically handicapped medical practitioners." The author's purpose is to inform society of the misconceptions that have been formed over the history of cosmetic surgery, and what will happen if the trend continues. (3.) The author conceives her role not only as a scholar, but also as a prophet. Haiken is seen as a scholar when she further advances the knowledge of American society when discussing the history of cosmetic surgery and how it evolved. Haiken is also seen as a prophet when she predicts the future of the procedures of cosmetic surgery if there is a future in store at all. (4.) Haiken writes in a straightforward but slightly slanted tone. She is very straightforward when she addresses the issues that many Americans know but are afraid to acknowledge. She is also biased because she talks about the issues surrounding surgeons' influence on what identity has become, but she does not address the issues of how cosmetic surgery has positively influenced the self-esteem and confidence that people who undergo the procedures gained.Questions of Craft:(5.) The article's content is structured mainly around surgeon's who perform cosmetic surgery and their patients who are changing their "identity" solely based on external appearances. The article is physically structured opening with a narrative from the CBS television show The Twilight Zone. Then Haiken reviews the history of cosmetic surgery and dates it back to BC in India when members of a brick maker caste tried to reconstruct noses cut off as punishment for adultery. Haiken goes on to address the current trends in cosmetic surgery, and concludes with what she feels the future holds concerning the extinction of the procedure. (6.) The phrase that best crystallized the article is physical construction of identity. This phrase describes the article as a whole because it's main idea is all about how and why Americans feel the need to reconstruct their exterior to fit the mold society has created for the "perfect identity." (7.) Haiken gives substance to her explanations by referring to several experts on the topics of cosmetic surgery, self image, and culture. First she refers to Richard Stark wrote an article titled "The History of Plastic Surgery in Wartime." Stark discusses issues concerning the history of cosmetic surgery. Secondly, Haiken uses Warren Susman as a reference. Susman wrote an article called "Personality and the Making of Twentieth Century Culture." This referred to the American society and the overall views of what type of appearance is acceptable. A third expert Haiken refers to is David Thomasma who wrote "The Goals of Medicine and Society." This article discussed the surgeo...


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