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westfall-researched argument


									Madeline Westfall

AP English 1

Mr. Lane

Independent Reading Argument

May 17, 2010

           Plastic Surgery: An Obsession Taking over Our Culture One Body Image at a time

                                                                Beauty Junkies

       Section I: Introduction and Context

       What defines a person as beautiful? Is it characterized defined by one’s philanthropic

actions, or by their physical appearance? More importantly, who defines a person as beautiful?

Do society and the media create this fabricated image of what beauty really is, or is it truly in the

eye of the beholder? These questions remain unanswered unrequited, although some people

believe that in order to achieve beauty, cosmetic surgery and unnatural body enhancements are

necessary. Alex Kuczynski strives to convey the vital message to all members of society that

cosmetic surgery for the wrong reason, to improve appearance, is dangerous and frivolous. In her

book, The Beauty Junkies, Kuczynski unearths the real truths of the cosmetic surgery world and

uncovers the many flaws of these juvenile procedures. Kuczynski knows from personal

experience how ambiguous surgeons can be, and the many ways consumers are mislead to

believe that a procedure will truly make them look “beautiful.””. From uncertified surgeons, to

unapproved drugs, there are many dangers that patients can face when they submit themselves to

a clinic for cosmetic surgery. The results of patient’s hasty decisions and imprudent behaviors

often bring about critical condition for patients consequently and sometimes even fatalities.

Kuczynski falls prey to the hypothetical addiction many women encounter when they too

acquiesce to the customs and jargon of the cosmetic surgery world. Not only does this book

serve as a database for vast amounts of information on the topic of cosmetic surgery, but it also

acts as an admonition to the dangers of complying with the moral ambiguities of these decadent


       Section II: The Author’s Background

       A writer for the New York Times for eight years, Alex Kuczynski holds a respectable

amount of experience and credentials, as the author of the book The Beauty Junkies. The author

mainly wrote columns relating to cosmetic surgery and at one point had a column devoted to it.

Not only was she a prominent writer for the most widely accepted newspaper in the country, but

her work was often published in other publications such as Vanity Fair, Harpers Bazaar, Allure,

and New York Times Magazine (Kuczynski back cover). This experience in publishing gives

Kuczynski a great deal of credibility as an author. Not only does her work contribute to this

reliability, but also the fact that she, personally, experienced the outcomes of erroneous plastic

surgery and witnessed the downfalls on a first hand level. The author’s familiarity through work

and play result in the value of her integrity in trusting the ideas presented in her work. However,

these understandings also act as flaws in her argument because they result in her bias against

plastic surgery. It is equally as plausible for someone with a great experience with cosmetic

surgery to write an equally as influential book on the opposing side of the argument. These facts

contribute to the credibility of Kuczynski’s ideas which allow her to convey a compelling

message concerning the aspects of cosmetic surgery in our country.

       Section III: The Book’s Argument

       The phenomenon of cosmetic surgery has swept our country and in turn has resulted in a

fifteen billion dollar craze, and Alex Kuczynski identifies the pieces that make up the puzzle of

reasons people fabricate in order to mask their inner desire for cosmetic surgery. Kuczynski

believes that “the endless struggle against looking old, the inability to accept the changing body

and face” is just one reason why many members of our society elect to take part in cosmetic

procedures (Kuczynski 4). In correspondence to Kuczynski’s beliefs, Doctor Ronald E. Iverson

also establishes his own set of reasons as to why many people want cosmetic surgery. Iverson’s

rationale includes, for the purpose of eternal contentment, for a solution to a “life problem,” and

lastly because “it looked good on TV” (Iverson). These reasons are just a few among the many

that motivate people to become attracted to cosmetic surgery, which often leads to the so-called

“addiction.”The book begins by exposing the alternative lifestyle the world of cosmetic surgery

usually equips. This lays the foundation for what Kuczynski essentially divulges as a cosmetic

surgery “addiction”. Although this condition sounds illegitimate and indulgent, there is actually

some truth behind this statement. Body Dismorphic Disorder is a medical condition which Dr.

Sydney Coleman describes as “[affecting] both men and women and [manifesting] as a

preoccupation with an imagined physical defect or an exaggerated concern about a minimal

defect”(Coleman, as referenced in Pruitt). The idea that people who become over indulgent with

plastic surgery have an excuse for their addiction, in the form of a medical condition, truly shows

how heavily afflicted our society is with side effects of cosmetic procedures.

       After discussing the major flaws in the decision making process of cosmetic surgery,

Kuczynski proceeds by discussing the different types of cosmetic procedures, and how prevalent

they are in society. Botox is one of the most common procedures today, and is now considered

an ordinary procedure, and has a lot less implications than the others. The book shifts into the

more factual information on Botox and how it is impacting our society. Kuczynski uses Cause

and Effect to show how the increased prominence of cosmetic surgery is negatively affecting our

culture. Botox was also one of the first procedures introduced to the public for cosmetic

purposes. However, Botox has had its peak and is declining in popularity due to the prominence

of other more developed and elaborate procedures. Cosmetic procedures have become more

specialized in certain areas in the body, for instance, you can now have your belly button fixed,

and your ears pinned back for cosmetic purposes (Kuczynski).

       The next topic Kuczynski addresses is the idea of what beauty really is in our society.

With the development of cosmetic procedures, beauty is becoming more popularly defined as

strictly exterior image and mimicking the figures of photo-shopped, and airbrushed models

ubiquitously present in the media. Kuczynski identifies a very important point, that “Part of why

beauty is so important to humans is that our depth perception allows us to see and recognize that

other humans are watching us” (Kuczynski 104). This statement really exemplifies how

preoccupied people in today’s world are with what other people think of them physically, on the

outer surface, and not for what truly matters. In relation to this, Kuczynski then transcends into

the relationship she had and conflicts she experienced with cosmetic surgery. Not only did the

author take part in multiple plastic surgeries, but she first handedly experienced the ups and

downs of the intense procedures. Upon the death of her good friend, Kuczynski found herself a

victim of a cosmetic surgery addiction. Not only did she attempt to fit both her close friend’s

funeral into her agenda but she based this scheduling around her cosmetic procedure she had

planned to make her lips look more “plump”. This part of the book shows exemplification in

how Kuczynski incorporate personal experience into educating the reader on the topic being

discusses, which ultimately supports her credibility. This, as previously states, is very common

in women who find cosmetic surgery a means to improve their image and ultimately their self

concept and self esteem. Not only does the reality of this obsession set in too late, but in most

cases damage has already been done. Many people fall prey to this fixation, and the effects are

often seen in people who strive to replicate the image of another human being or even in some

extreme cases, animals. However, society is making it more and more common for people to

become “obsessed” with their image through the media and the development of new procedures

that do everything from slim your stomach, to “revirginization” a completely immoral procedure

which involves operation on the vagina in order for the feeling of being a virgin again

(Kuczynski 5). The author describes this procedure using a detailed description of what is

exactly done to the female organ to complete the procedure. The visual and sensory aspects of

this description allow for a more vivid account, ultimately putting procedures like these in a

negative connotation. Not only have morally corrupt procedures like this overtaken natural

beauty and the traditional outlook on splendor in our society, but they have made way for more

changes that in the future, may ultimately lead to advances which allow people to completely

alter their physical appearance.

       Section IV: Opposing Points of View

       Although cosmetic procedures are conclusively decadent and licentious in the terms of

the preservation of natural beauty, many compelling arguments have been established which

oppose that of Alex Kuczynski’s view. A viewpoint in favor of plastic surgery shows the

increasing research that demonstrates that superior appearance is beneficial in the professional

world, especially in hiring in the business market. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and

Reconstructive Surgery informs us that, “among last year's most prominent trends, about two

thirds of its members reported seeing men and women who requested cosmetic surgery because

they wanted to remain competitive in the workplace” (Wolgemuth). This statement shows that

although plastic surgery remains an immoral concept in the eyes of many people, in some

perspectives it is a completely necessary in order to remain at the top of the working class ladder

and to essentially maintain a steady job without being threatened by the younger appeal of recent

college graduates. Many variables must be taken into consideration when contemplating whether

or not to elect in cosmetic procedures. This is not only on the behalf of the patient but also the

doctor who may be performing the surgery (Sevinor). This idea shows the counterargument

against Kuczynski’s book, as she often criticizes the fact that doctors are sometime illegitimate,

using their other medical degrees to gain advantages in the cosmetic surgery world. Although I

do believe that Cosmetic Surgery is immoral and shows the corruption media has burdened our

country with, the idea that it can be used beneficially and necessarily, is very plausible. The

counterargument to the book The Beauty Junkies exemplifies the many reasons why people

convince themselves that plastic and cosmetic surgery is acceptable and morally defined.

       Section V: Conclusion

       Think back to a time when you accomplished something great, overcame an obstacle, or

completed a huge milestone in your life. What would you have thought if your parents or loved

ones rewarded you with an appointment to completely alter your physical appearance, to rest

anesthetically unaware while a group of surgeons cut apart your body in order to make it look

more attractive, more appealing? My guess, is that you would be awestruck, taken aback by the

fact that a simple hug, compliment, or congratulations would not suffice. This is what our society

has turned into. A place where teenage girls often receive cosmetic procedures as birthday gifts,

and graduation presents. “A study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that more

than 219,000 plastic surgery procedures were performed on teenagers age 13-19 in 2008”

(Donovan). This shows how ethically deficient our society has transformed to be, and how the

aim is no longer on accentuating natural beauty, but by enhancing it artificially. The Beauty

Junkies allows people to see the truths behind the dangers and flaws of cosmetic surgery and

how this self indulgent practice has ultimately changed our culture.

      Section VI: Works Cited

                                      Works Cited

Donovan, Elizabeth. "Plastic Surgery for Teen Girls: Is it right for your daughter? Parenting

       Pink." Parenting Pink!. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2010.


Iverson, Ronald E.. "How Much Plastic Surgery Is Too Much?." Plastic Surgery - Consumer

       Guide to Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2010.


Kuczynski, Alex. Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery.

       New York: Doubleday, 2006. Print

Pruitt, Elana . “Cosmetic Surgery Addiction." Plastic Surgery Procedures - Find a Plastic

       Surgeon - Plastic Surgery Before and After Pictures. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2010.



Sevinor, Sheldon J.. "The psychology of beauty: what are the right reasons for plastic surgery? -

       page 2. USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education)." Find Articles at

       BNET | News Articles, Magazine Back Issues & Reference Articles on All Topics. N.p.,

       n.d. Web. 4 May 2010.



Wolgemuth, Liz. "How Plastic Surgery Can Boost Your Career - US News and World Report."

       US News & World Report - Breaking News, World News, Business News, and America's

       Best Colleges - N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2010.



              Name                                                       Date

Area                              Score         Comments
Ideas and Content                          9
Organization                              10
Word Choice                                9
Sentence Fluency                           9
Voice                                     10
Lower Order Concerns                       9
Presentation (Research Guide)             10
Insight                                    9
Support                                    9
Introduction and Conclusion               10
TOTAL                                     94
GRADE out of 50                           47 Nice job developing your analysis of the argument through ex
                                             and explanation; note revisions needed (in particular, Section
                                             and LOCs


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