Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: American Plastic: Boob Jobs, Credit Cards, and Our Quest for Perfection

This may seem like an academic book, but it really isn't. While Laura Essig is a professor, there is so much ground covered that many statements are a bit too generalized to be called scholarly literature. Don't let that stop you from reading what she has to say, though.

The connection she makes between plastic money and plastic body modifications, such as tummy tucks and facelifts, is one of those "Huh, I never thought about it that way before" ideas. While her focus roams from how it effects the economy to feminism, she continues to explain just how prevalent the desire for bodily perfection is today and how we got here.

Such plastic surgeries used to be available only to the rich, but the advent of the credit card opened this option up to general public. The economic collapse barely hit the plastic surgery market. Instead, 71 percent of the surgeries were for people with household incomes of less than 60,000.

Her humor keeps the book from being overly dire, but her overlying message is that we cannot escape the plastic society we now live in, only rebel against it; those who attempt to find that they cannot because of the very nature of plasticity: the ability to bend and reform itself.

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