Tanya Sheehan gave us a lot to think about in her talk, “Extreme Makeovers: The Visual Culture of Plastic surgery.” Our visual culture presents itself all the way from adding a quick filter on a smartphone, to actually directly altering a body through cosmetic surgery. The notion of a “natural” body suggests no purposeful alteration, however, in terms of what then may be seen as an “unnatural” body there is a distinction between reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery.
Sheehan mentioned the existence of reality TV shows based on the premise of using plastic surgery to not only “improve” appearance, but “improve” a person as a whole. One of these shows was called “The Swan,” and I decided to check it out after the talk. In a sense it was scary how much weight the participants put on their appearance when there really was no reason to feel uncomfortable – it seems like a symptom of our current culture.
Then again, the thought goes that why burn through money and endure pain when you can apply quick digital “fixes” that are also medically named?