Beauty Junkies by Alex Kuczynski

An investigation into cosmetic surgery, mainly in America, with a focus on the extremes to which people have gone.

I’ve been dying to read this ever since I read the autobiographical except in “Vanity Fair.” I find plastic surgery perplexing, in that I think that having my face changed would make it hard for me to ever feel real again. I’m always amazed when watching shows like “Extreme Makeover” or “The Swan” to see that the women are married–isn’t that the definition of being loved for who you are on the inside? But I do sympathize with those who feel that they’re deformed in face or body, and I think I would have more empathy were I not luckily blessed with a face I don’t mind seeing in the mirror. I look like my mom, and a bit like one of my first cousins, and I hope I will see some of myself in my baby come November. Preferably more of my husband, though–he is very good looking and has lovely blue eyes.

Kuczynski takes us everywhere from the offices of a top Manhattan dermatologist to a “surgery safari” in South Africa to the inside of Harvey Weinstein’s mouth. It’s a lot like reading a very long Sunday “New York Times” cover story, with facts and history interspersed with the often-shocking anecdotal material. Kuczynski waits until the second-to-last chapter to let us in on her own descent into a junkie-dom, which culminated with her squeezing in a microdermabrasion and lip augmentation in between a funeral and post-funeral reception. She had a bad reaction to the Restylene and missed the reception and the chance to say goodbye to a close friend because her upper lip swelled up to the size of a yam. Ew!

Beauty Junkies manages to be critical of plastic surgery abuse while acknowledging the very real reasons that people feel that they need to change their physical appearance. If the option is available, it’s hard not to think about what it would be like to exercise that option–and in the case of plastic surgery, that means spending an awful lot of time in the mirror. Didn’t our kindergarten teachers warn us about this?

2 thoughts on “Beauty Junkies by Alex Kuczynski”

  1. I have to admit, I think about plastic surgery more than I used to — don’t know if that’s because it’s always in my face here (a lot of Koreans are opting for eyelid surgery, which just makes them look surprised all the time) or if it’s because I’m getting older. Still, I think about the money people spend even for minor procedures and all the books it would buy.

  2. One of the points she makes about plastic surgery, with regard to her own eye lift, is that it doesn’t last. Time will catch up with you eventually.

    Books, however, can outlast you 🙂

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