Change has now become the mantra of modernity.
Evaluate the post-modern discourse concerning cosmetic surgery, and its associations with Orlan's Art Charnel'.
Throughout the ages women in particular, have undergone pain to attempt to conform to the well-established cultural ideals of beauty and youth. This is clear in relation to procedures such as foot binding and the wearing of restrictive corsets, where women suffered discomfort and immobility in the name of particular fashions. The transformability of the individual was the promise of the Renaissance and became the political platform of the Enlightenment. .
Since the end of the nineteenth century, Western society has replaced these practices with strict diets, exercise programmes and perhaps even more remarkably, cosmetic plastic surgery. With pain and infection removed or reduced, aesthetic surgery came into its own. Our society is bombarded with media messages and societal values that equate thinness and beauty with success and achievement. The patient/client who seeks the assistance of a cosmetic surgeon, believes that there is a desirable category of being, from which he or she is excluded, because of reasons that are defined as physical. The results of this exclusion are symptoms of psychological unhappiness. .
People are increasingly overwhelmed with messages of youthful ideals of how to stay young or how to get old without signs of aging, and women's appearance in particular seems to pay a key role in self and identity in Western society. As Sander.L.Gilman points out 'Society makes women unhappy about their bodies and supplies them the cure through the hand of a surgeon.' The surgeon can enable the patient to pass' as a member of a desired group. The globalization of aesthetic surgery has spawned numerous centres that link surgery and tourism. North Americans have long gone to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. A recent article in the Daily Telegraph magazine brought my attention to Dr Ivo Pitanguy of Brazil, who 'believes that plastic surgery is not just a luxury for the rich, but a democratic right that should be accessible to the poor.