Beauty map, part 1 // 4 April 2012

The plastic surgeon who gives his 16-year-old daughter and her friends boob jobs, Botox and lip fillers. The New Jersey parents who spent $45,000 on their son’s first birthday. The woman who lost 500lbs. The 45-year-old who claims that every time she has plastic surgery, she gets a promotion at her Wall Street job. The manorexia, celebrity adoptions, diet fads and sardonically ubiquitous therapy. I wrote about all of them.

I’m pondering my nine months in New York City. Not long enough, to be sure, to really understand a country, but more than enough time to be struck by jarring differences in approaches, culture and consciousness.

Where is America (though they are by no means alone) going wrong – economy and food systems aside – to produce such a heady cocktail of image-obsessed insecurity when it comes to ideas of beauty? In certain lights, celebrity, fame, money and everything in between come together under the guise of opportunity and to the obfuscation of so much that really matters.

Nine months is all it took to feel bombarded to the point of frustration by the lemming-like procession of identikit politicos, the carbon copy TV anchors, the whitened teeth, blow-out hairstyles and the very same pout, nose and chin shape – ‘God’s gifts’ – adorning a frighteningly large number of prominent women… and, more often, men.

But what’s caused this freakish take on beauty?

It’s a huge enough topic to warrant (another) book unto itself. And, for now, a mind splurge over a drink… More to come.

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