Kathy Davis redefines cosmetic surgery by giving it a new outlook as a complex that serves both as a problem and solution. She reviews the approaches and perspectives of feminist critiques, artists and victims of cosmetic surgery. Feminist critiques dwell on the empowerment that women are deemed to derive from the surgeries. Kathy, however, weighs this gain against the risks, and social losses involved. She also explores the artist's perspective and reveals that, in as much as it highlights both the gains of the operations it also gives an insight into the suffering that comes with opting to undergo it (Davis 2). The pervasiveness associated with some forms of artistic cosmetic surgery, embodies vital indicators of the battle women engage in, against society’s demand for an ideal body (Davis 5). Kathy also represents the views of many victims of cosmetic surgery, who neither share the artistic view nor seek to make public statements about their bodies. They are the majority, and they approach the issue in a private and personal manner (Davis 7). She associates the indifference, social pressure and denial that women face in regard to their bodies with their desire to make technology work for their relief from these problems (Davis 9). Kathy challenges the traditional definition of cosmetic surgery satisfactorily by redefining it as a complex, serving both as a problem and solution to the issues women face about their bodies.
Kathy sides with the view that cosmetic surgery is used to embrace the bodies of women as pieces of art (Davis 3). She uses Orlan, a French artist, as an example of an agent of feminist utopia because she undergoes them as a tool for artistic expression (Davis 1). The artist also overlooks the pain, health risks, ethical and social implications that surgical operations may have on her. She also ends up less beautiful after every subsequent surgical operation. The feminist critique directed towards cosmetic surgery utopia is deemed inappropriate, and instead, art is best suited to explain this utopia. Artistic expressions associated with it mainly come in the form of the suffering and empowerment derived from it (Davis 6). The task of having to battle constantly with religious and cultural norms is part of such suffering. Orlan demonstrates that such battles are part and parcel of the art involved. When viewed as an art, cosmetic surgery goes a long way in supporting feminist critique of its role in the whole complex. Kathy reveals that such an approach does not guarantee a full understanding of the diverse motives behind the involvement of women in cosmetic surgery.
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Cosmetic surgery is also a manifestation of feminist utopia (Davis 8). Kathy portrays this idea by exemplifying how women look up to technology for a future that meets their cosmetic needs. She takes us through a series of these envisions that women have had in history, ranging from the desire to be relieved from the burden of motherhood, to their thirst for a biotechnological erase on sexuality and race (Davis 8). She also notes and sides with a philosophical idea raised by Kathryn Morgan that utopia is revealed in the desirable, ideal look sought for by victims of cosmetic surgery. It is, however, unlikely that such a look will ever be achieved because it keeps changing (Davis 8). Women may also come to denounce the traditional misconception, that there are naturally set standards of beauty and that women should conform to the alleged standards. Just, as Orlan does, they might do this through deliberate mutilations and openly counterfeited modifications of themselves using technology in order to offend such standards (Davis 5). Protests of this nature may, however, idolize the postulations of men because of their technological dominance. The most important result, as Kathy puts it, is that feminist utopia sets free state of being a critic of cosmetic surgery from the need of having to undergo it. Women are left with the free will to choose to have power over their own bodies or to let technological trends shape their ideality.
Women who opt for cosmetic surgery battle with many challenges that a utopian response fails to account for. They face serious risks during surgery, including deformation and death. The utopian response also overlooks the suffering that women go through as they try to attain desirable looks. They also respond to the idea of undergoing surgery emotionally, sometimes rejecting it and sometimes embracing it (Davis 7). The utopian response, on the contrary, assumes that women submit to the suffering and the risks involved unemotionally. The women who undergo the surgery, however, view it as understandably risky but unavoidable. Kathy thinks that such women undertake the operations because they are not ordinary. Cosmetic surgery is hereby depicted as an extrapolation of feminist utopia. In addition to the subdued emotional suffering, women also have to subdue the physical pain that comes with the operation (Davis 7). Kathy argues that, as natural beings, they feel the pain and anesthetization is a concealment of such pain.
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In conclusion, cosmetic surgery, as Kathy depicts it, is a complex that modern women deal with differently. She makes a clear outline of how the traditional definition of cosmetic surgery fails to meet its diversification and application. To be practiced as an art, this surgery demands sacrifice of the patient's natural, physical appearance and emotions as well as risking her overall well-being (Davis 10). It, however, serves as an efficient tool for expressionism because the artist is not only the expressed message, but also serves as a living example of his or her art (Davis 4). Those who practice such art can be seen as either being indifferent about the underlying concept of feminist utopia, or giving it their ascent. Feminist utopia, however, is a key concept in cosmetic surgery, which if extrapolated, may result in false implications. Extreme extrapolations depict victims of cosmetic surgery as non-suspecting victims of a male-controlled technological wave. The women who go for cosmetic surgeries, however, are fully aware of such social implications, and they do it for more important personal reasons. The secrecy, with which a majority of them approach their surgeries, shows that they weigh such implications against their desired look (Davis 7). It remains unknown either to them or to the critics of cosmetic surgery, whether their decisions auger well with the ever-changing moral standards of the modern society. Kathy hereby, depicts the surgery as a complex dilemma that is not only a problem and a solution, but also a symptom of expression, as well as an act of empowerment.
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