‘The poor have the right to be beautiful’: Cosmetic surgery in neoliberal Brazil’

This week’s readings were on the subject of the body, one of the readings that stood out the most was the piece by Alexander Edmonds on the plastic surgery in Brazil. In recent days I have heard many people going to Brazil to get plastic surgery and this reading only made it clear of what was going on in the world of plastic surgery in Brazil. The shift of health care programs that allow the lower class people to receive funds for plastic surgery was pretty shocking in terms of their health care system compared to United States. The democratization of plastic surgery has become part of public service claiming that everyone has the right to be beautiful no matter what your social status or background is. The notion that appearance is linked to psyche became publicly accepted and also the power of social media and images of socially accepted beauty has played such a big part in this shifting change. Within the limitation of what can be done to your body they are able to create and reconstruct your body to look different. Especially the younger women today are so focused on achieving the ideal beauty manifested in the media. To look as beautiful and gorgeous as the fashion models and celebrity has become an extreme trend taking away from the idea of individualization. We thrive to look as what the society views as accepted and beautiful and if we fall behind the norm there is many times one would feel left out and out casted. This idea to look beautiful according to what others think has definitely changed so many aspects of our lives but this change is so evident in the idea of body. A piece of clothing has become not just something you wear but it has become a part of our body and how you are identified. We are consciously self-aware of what we wear and how our body looks and lastly how we are represented through these two things. The growth of media and images of body and fashion has become part of our daily concerns and lives and this shift has taken away from individuality but slowly unifying our body and what is considered beautiful.


2 responses to “BODY

  1. emilykotarski

    I found what you said about the relationship to fashion and plastic surgery very interesting. People have become so caught up in newest trends and styles and now it is becoming very popular to spend a lot of time worrying with not only the appearance of our naked body but our clothed body too. This idea concerns me with how women spend their time and worry. If people (specifically women) spent less time worrying about what they were wearing or how other people thought about their appearance, I can’t help but wonder what other amazing things women could be accomplishing outside of industries that are concerned with appearance. Aspiring to be apart of the fashion industry some day (one that is centered around appearance and relies on woman worrying about how they look) I find myself asking this question of “is it really worth being so concerned with how I look” often. If I spent less time worrying about going to the gym, the clothes I wear and doing my make-up or hair, what else could I be accomplishing? And how much of my time do I spend doing all of these activities daily, and sometimes more than once a day?

  2. What is Identity? Is it internal or external? I agree with you that external accessories like clothing and looks have transformed into what we as humans view as our identity. If we take plastic surgery into account, we can make that argument that plastic surgery is a means of accessorizing the body to obtain the look (or identity) that you want. However, then the argument can become whether or not the look that you desire, is really what you want, or is it a want that society is telling you should have in order to fit in, be successful, BE HAPPY.

    The democratization of plastic surgery in Brazil is a very interesting phenomenon. This idea of plastic surgery as a right makes me rethink about what characterizes a right. When I think of rights, I think of freedoms, freedom of choice, freedom of speech, etc. I’m not totally convinced that plastic surgery should be a right; I feel that it is a privilege, and should stay such. Laws should not be changed to accommodate the plastic surgery industry; societies demand for an ideal should change. Changing how the plastic surgery industry is run and viewed will not solve the underlying illness in society of low self worth.

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