Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery

By Virginia L. Blum | Go to book overview

FIVE
As If Beauty

“That's what a star is … someone who is always re-creating themselves anew. ”

Joan Hyler, Hollywood manager, in “Altered States”

Brian D'Amato's updated Frankenstein novel, Beauty, makes clear the narcissistic side effects of celebrity culture. The narrator, Jamie Angelo, transforms aging faces with a combination of Artificial Skin, photography, painting, and, later, computer generations. He calls his craft “beauty technology”: “industrial materials designed to imitate or … surpass nature” (39). He specializes in celebrities (“celebrity-makeovers, ” as he calls them) whose faces desperately need to measure up to the camera's intense scrutiny (127).

Jamie creates the template for his girlfriend's new face on the computer. She is not intended to seem quite real; that her beauty is unnatural is essential to its power. Nevertheless, the instant Jamie “releases” her to the public, she becomes a paradigm for others to emulate. 1 As D'Amato suggests, however, modeling oneself on two-dimensional images is inherent in movie-star culture itself. Plastic surgery is insufficient because it's limited by real flesh. Working with Artificial Skin (absolutely smooth, poreless) is like taking an airbrushed image and importing it into the domain of real life. This is plastic surgery's unconscious

-145-

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Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • One - The Patient's Body 1
  • Two - Untouchable Bodies 35
  • Three - A Slow Dance 67
  • Four - Frankenstein Gets a Face-Lift 103
  • Five - As If Beauty 145
  • Six - The Monster and the Movie Star 188
  • Seven - Celebrity Culture and the Wages of Love 220
  • Eight - Addicted to Surgery 262
  • Notes 291
  • Works Cited 315
  • Index 341
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