A star writer for the New York Times Styles section captures the follies, frauds, and fanaticism that fuel the American pursuit of youth and beauty in a wickedly revealing excursion into the burgeoning business of cosmetic enhancement.
Americans are aging faster and getting fatter than any other population on the planet. At the same time, our popular notions of perfect beauty have become so strict it seems even Barbie wouldn’t have a chance of making it into the local beauty pageant.
Aging may be a natural fact of life, but for a growing number of Americans its hallmarks—wrinkles, love handles, jiggling flesh—are seen as obstacles to be conquered on the path to lasting, flawless beauty. In Beauty Junkies Alex Kuczynski, whose sly wit and fearless reporting in the Times has won her fans across the country, delivers a fresh and irresistible look at America’s increasingly desperate pursuit of ultimate beauty by any means necessary.
From a group of high-maintenance New York City women who devote themselves to preserving their looks twenty-four hours a day, to a “surgery safari” in South Africa complete with “after” photographs of magically rejuvenated patients posing with wild animals, to a podiatrist’s office in Manhattan where a “foot face-lift” provides women with the right fit for their $700 Jimmy Choos, Kuczynski portrays the all-American quest for self-transformation in all its extremes. In New York, lawyers become Botox junkies in an effort to remain poker-faced. In Los Angeles, women of an uncertain age nip and tuck their most private areas, so that every inch of their bodies is as taut as their lifted faces. Across the country, young women graduating from high school receive gifts of breast implants – from their parents.
As medicine and technology stretch the boundaries of biology, Kuczynski asks whether cosmetic surgery might even be part of human evolution, a kind of cosmetic survival of the fittest – or firmest? With incomparable portraits of obsessive patients and the equally obsessed doctors who cater to their dreams, Beauty Junkies examines the hype, the hope, and the questionable ethics surrounding the advent of each new miraculous technique. Lively and entertaining, thought-provoking and disturbing, Beauty Junkies is destined to be one of the most talked-about books of the season.
About the Author(s)
ALEX KUCZYNSKI, a reporter for the New York Times for eight years, is now a columnist for the Styles section. She has written for the Times on such wide-ranging topics as Botox, Britney Spears, and Buddhism, and her work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, the New York Times Book Review, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in New York City.
Part expose, part confesional 🙂, October 17, 2006
This book is fascinating on a few different levels. Alex Kuczynski (New York Times Style reporter) has done her research; she’s dived into this industry and what makes it tick. She also admits to having work done herself and reveals about herself being a beauty junkie too (fat sucked out of her butt and eyelid lifts). She confesses to walking through New York worrying about her mortgage payment considering that she just spent an obscene amount of dough on cosmetic surgery.
She said that there has been a 465% increase in cosmetic procedures since 1997, eleven and a half million and a half cosmetic procedures done last year etc. She mentions some famous people and the work that they have had done as well. This book is full of facts and reasons perhaps why this industry has taken off. Again, Alex has done her research and knows her stuff which makes for a very interesting read. It is quite eye opening (so to speak) and had me hooked right from the start.