FACT: Plastic surgery first gained popularity at the end of the sixteenth century with the appearance of epidemic syphilis, when doctors sought to rebuild the noses of those who suffered from the disease.
Nose reconstructions have been common in India for centuries. South Korea, Brazil, and Israel have become international centers for procedures ranging from eyelid restructuring to buttock lifts and tummy tucks. Argentina has the highest rate of silicone implants in the world. Around the globe, aesthetic surgery has become a cultural and medical fixture. Sander Gilman seeks to explain why by presenting the first systematic world history and cultural theory of aesthetic surgery. Touching on subjects as diverse as getting a “nose job” as a sweet-sixteen birthday present and the removal of male breasts in seventh-century Alexandria, Gilman argues that aesthetic surgery has such universal appeal because it helps people to “pass,” to be seen as a member of a group with which they want to or need to identify.
Making the Body Beautiful:
A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery
By Sander L. Gilman
Read chapter one online: