Learning to Love Yourself: Esthetics, Health and Therapeutics in Brazilian Plastic Surgery

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Abstract

Brazilian plastic surgeons have successfully promoted a psychotherapeutic rationale for cosmetic surgery. This article critically engages with this ‘philosophy’ of health, analyzing how it is deployed in busy teaching hospitals. I show how a tradition of intimate hierarchy and class dynamics in medical institutions informs the experimental ethos of clinical practice as patients internalize a psychotherapeutic notion of health and management regimes of female reproduction and sexuality that are becoming normalized among upper social strata. In the process, cosmetic and healing rationales become blurred as patients pursue an expansive, qualitatively defined state of well-being that I call ‘esthetic health’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-489
JournalEthnos
Volume74
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2009

Keywords

  • Plastic surgery
  • Brazil
  • esthetic health
  • female reproduction and sexuality
  • social class
  • enhancement technologies

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