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

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  27 ratings  ·  6 reviews
The riveting story of how cosmetic surgery and plastic money melted together to create a subprime mortgage crisis of the body

Plastic surgery has become “the answer” for many Americans, and inAmerican Plasticsociologist Laurie Essig explores how we arrived at this particular solution. Over the last decade there has been a 465 percent increase in cosmetic work, and we now s...more
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Published December 28th 2010 by Beacon Press (first published November 16th 2010)
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Tracy
I really wanted to love this book. Essig makes some cogent points in connecting our cultural drive for perfection with debt and cosmetic surgical/nonsurgical procedures, but on the whole it just wasn't as well-argued as it could have been. I also really wanted her to dig in and seek out folks who do or don't seek out cosmetic surgery who are people of color, trans folks, queer folks, low-income folks, and others with marginalized identities. Instead, they were included (if at all) as an aftertho...more
Adam
Jun 02, 2011 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adam by: Jayper
Whoa there's a lot here! As much as I enjoyed reading American Plastic, I'm sure I could have gotten so much more out of it had I read it as part of a college course. Good thing I have my brother, a student at Essig's current university, to lecture me on the subject matter!

American Plastic takes a sociological shot at comparing the cosmetic surgery industry to the recent credit collapse. An unlikely, but rather well aligned comparison.

Essig explores the potential reasons for the incredible ballo...more
L.J.
American Plastic: Boob Jobs, Credit Cards, and Our Quest for Perfection
Laurie Essig, Beacon, $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0055-7

Essig, assistant professor of sociology at Middlebury College, argues that our national obsession with plastic money and plastic surgery is more than a cultural fad; it's a capitalist conspiracy engineered to persuade Americans that problems of economic insecurity, downward mobility, and lack of opportunity for the poor can be solved by consumption. Essig posits that...more
Anne
3.5 stars

The blurb promises an analysis of the relationship between cosmetic surgery, credit, and culture. But, written by a sociologist, it actually focuses on the cultural underpinnings of plastic surgery (the economic stuff was crammed into a few chapters). Who is getting all this "work" done and how did we (the US, as a country) ever arrive at this point where so many people feel the need to get that "work" done.

Again, it was written by a sociologist, so let's just say the economic analysis...more
Andrew
Of nasolabials and neoliberalism or, death-denial on the installment place. Sharp look at the factors contributing to the rise of plastic surgery in America. Connecting late century consumer capitalism,unregulated banking industry, and the myth of the transformative power of the market place, Essig deflates the idea that our future is destined to be plastic.
Jennifer Campaniolo
When I finished reading this book, I was in a funk. I thought Essig would take a harsher line against the increasingly plastic culture we live in, but it was only in the last chapter that she actually offered some hope that as a society we might, might, become less superficial. She spent most of the book citing people like Joan Rivers, but who wants to look like her? I would think she would be a perfect example of why NOT to go under the knife to look younger. I don't feel like I learned very mu...more
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Laurie Essig teaches sociology at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. She has written for a variety of publications, including Legal Affairs, Salon, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She blogs for the Chronicle's Brainstorm blog.
More about Laurie Essig...
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