Under the Knife

Cosmetic Surgery, Boundary Work, and the Pursuit of the Natural Fake

Samantha Kwan and Jennifer Graves
Book Cover

PB: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1933-0
Publication: Jul 20

HC: $92.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1932-3
Publication: Jul 20

Ebook: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1934-7
Publication: Jul 20

222 pages
5.5 x 8.25
4 tables

How the pursuit of a “naturally” beautiful body plays out in cosmetic surgery

Description

Most women who elect to have cosmetic surgery want a “natural” outcome—a discrete alteration of the body that appears unaltered. Under the Knife examines this theme in light of a cultural paradox. Whereas women are encouraged to improve their appearance, there is also a stigma associated with those who do so via surgery.

Samantha Kwan and Jennifer Graves reveal how women negotiate their “unnatural”—but hopefully (in their view) natural-looking—surgically-altered bodies. Based on in-depth interviews with forty-six women who underwent cosmetic surgery to enhance their appearance, the authors investigate motivations for surgery as well as women’s thoughts about looking natural after the procedures. Under the Knife dissects the psychological and physical strategies these women use to manage the expectations, challenges, and disappointments of cosmetic surgery while also addressing issues of agency and empowerment. It shows how different cultural intersections can produce varied goals and values around body improvement.

Under the Knife highlights the role of deep-seated yet contradictory gendered meanings about women’s bodies, passing, and boundary work. The authors also consider traditional notions of femininity and normalcy that trouble women’s struggle to preserve an authentic moral self.

About the Author(s)

Samantha Kwan is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on how people embody, resist, and negotiate body norms and scripts. She is coauthor of Framing Fat: Competing Constructions in Contemporary Culture and coeditor of Embodied Resistance: Challenging the Norms, Breaking the Rules; The Politics of Women’s Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance, and Behavior; and Body Battlegrounds: Transgressions, Tensions, and Transformations.

Jennifer Graves is an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on the sociology of the body and embodiment with a particular interest in fat studies. She is coauthor of Framing Fat: Competing Constructions in Contemporary Culture.


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