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Pretty Modernis a riveting account of Brazil's emergence as a global leader in plastic surgery. Intrigued by a Carnival parade that mysteriously paid homage to a Rio de Janeiro plastic surgeon, anthropologist Alexander Edmonds conducted research that took him from Ipanema socialite circles to glitzy telenovela studios to the packed waiting rooms of public hospitals offering free cosmetic surgery. The result is provocative exploration of the erotic, commercial, and intimate aspects of beauty in a nation with extremes of wealth and poverty and a reputation for natural sensuality. Drawing on conversations with maids and their elite mistresses, divorced housewives, black celebrities, and favela residents aspiring to be fashion models, he analyzes what sexual desirability means and does for women in different social positions. Edmonds argues that beauty is a distinct realm of modern experience that does not simply reflect other inequalities. It mimics the ambiguous emancipatory potential of capital, challenging traditional hierarchies while luring consumers into a sexual culture that reduces the body to the brute biological criteria of attractiveness. Richly illustrated with colour photographs,Pretty Modernoffers a fresh theoretical perspective on the significance of female beauty in consumer capitalism.
Alexander Edmonds is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.
Table of Contents
Introduction. In the Universe of Beauty
The Self-Esteem in Each Ego awakens
The Philosopher of Plástica
Without Tits There Is No Paradise
A Brief History of Self-Esteem
The Right to Beauty
The National Passion
My Black Is My Brand
The Economy of Appearances
Engineering, the Erotic
Creating and Modeling Nature
Aesthetic Medicine and Motherhood
The Vanity of Maids
Lens of Dreams
I Love Myself
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