Rachel Hurst on Cosmetic Surgery Photographs and Narratives

Posted by Dorothy Lander

I recently learned of Rachel Hurst’s feminist scholarship related to cosmetic surgery.   Rachel draws on feminist and psychoanalytic theories and sources and uses arts-based research methodologies to both gather and represent her conversations with women who have had cosmetic surgery (e.g., breast augmentation/reduction, face, eye, chin lift).    I want to draw attention to her scholarship on this site in order to name cosmetic surgery as an art form that performs feminist popular education. How so?  Popular education unfolds in the performative as women put their altered face, skin, and body out into the world disrupting/interrupting gendered, racialized norms around beauty, femininity, health.  I recommend that you read Rachel Hurst’s articles on the cosmetic surgery photograph and women’s surgery narratives as companion pieces. Both resonate with the arts-based methodology that I favour, appreciative genealogy, i.e.,  they offer visual and narrative testimony to the value of cosmetic surgery in combination with a critical discourse analysis of the texts written on the body — gender, race, (dis)ability, age.

And here just to tantalize you is Rachel’s poetic representations of  one  of her interviewees’ narratives (Hurst, 2012):

This Specific Doctor…Was Considered the Best (Melinda, breast augmentation)
He was considered the best in North America.

(he was more expensive)

But I mean, if you’re going to do it, you do it right, you know?

I decided well, the appointment’s free.

You go and talk to him.

He was a nice man,

A nice man.

Wasn’t overly like affectionate.

Was focused.

Very professional.

A nice man.

It felt kind of like he was a professor, right? Or a teacher that you like…

He teaches at the U of T,

because he specializes in breast surgery.

I remember I felt kind of like he was giving me a lecture of a spiel, you know, like a lecture.

I was very uncomfortable.

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~ by artpoped on July 15, 2013.

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