About face

Under the skin of the cosmetic surgery industry

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  • Published 20230207
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-80-1
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN THE HBO series Hacks, Jean Smart plays stand-up comedian Deborah Vance, a Las Vegas headliner, home-shopping network mogul and minor cultural icon – if one whose bookings are drying up. In one episode, she has routine plastic surgery; she gets work done so she can work. Viewers are to assume that the character Smart plays is around the same age she is, seventy-one. For a performer still on the job in her sixties or seventies – or, frankly, any age – not to have cosmetic interventions of the invasive kind is the same as retiring. Or dying.

Deborah Vance inhabits the same acid milieu as late real-life comedians Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, the women through whom, as a child in the 1970s, I would have first heard the word ‘face lift’. Diller had her first nose job and face lift in 1971. In an ‘information video cassette’ about plastic surgery from 1984, a cosmetic surgery sales-pitch prototype, Diller proclaimed, ‘It’s more than a physical lift. It’s a psychic lift and a spiritual lift. It makes you feel very much better about yourself.’ 

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