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Beauty Junkies: In search of the thinnest thighs, perkiest breasts, smoothest faces, whitest teeth, and skinniest, most perfect toes in America Paperback – January 15, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A podiatrist shortens toes so her clients can fit into Jimmy Choos, and a lawyer who's argued before the Supreme Court routinely lies to a succession of doctors to feed his Botox habit. As this depressing survey of a global beauty business rooted in self-hatred and a fear of aging demonstrates, an unfortunate few are literally dying to be pretty: the Nigerian first lady expired after liposuction and a tummy tuck, and Olivia Goldsmith, whose novels lampooned middle-aged women afraid to look their age, succumbed during a chin tuck. New York Times reporter Kuczynski has attitude to spare as she outs Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman as probable Botox users, and assesses the "traumatized" naked body of a litigator who's showing off the results of a total body lift after gastric-bypass surgery: "to be honest and brutal and bitchy, she doesn't look that great." A canny and witty guide to the excesses of a conformist society with more money than sense, Kuczynski discloses her own beauty addiction in the form of Botox, collagen derived from cadavers and fetal foreskin cells, liposuction, eyelid lifts and eventually a botched Restylane treatment that left her housebound for days with a disfigured lip.(Oct. 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

New York Times reporter Kuczynski's -docu-mentary-like narrative on the U.S. cosmetic industry is at once an expose, a gripping series of related articles, and an autobiography. The author has produced harrowing tales of our denial of aging--for men and for women. She has done her homework many times over, interviewing patients and doctors, talking to company executives who support the industry (for instance, imaging systems and pharmaceuticals), attending trade shows, and researching past news. What emerges is information about every surgery under the knife, including gastric bypass, breast augmentation, and liposuction; all are painstakingly detailed in the author's engaging, hard-to-put down fashion. When she herself confesses to an abnormal need for Botox and other dermatological enhancements, and when her own lip replumping goes awry, it is a clear cry for Americans of all sizes and shapes and ages to seriously and continuously reexamine their sense of selves--via a process that's much more than skin deep. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (January 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767914112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767914116
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rick Spell VINE VOICE on November 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has generated great buzz as written by a noted NY Times writer who becomes obsessed with plastic surgery at the age of 28 and have various procedures over the next ten years. It's an interesting story but it only occupies 15% of the book and is the closing.

Prior to that the book is an exhaustive summary of the history of plastic surgery dating back to the 1800s and sorted by the various body types being transposed, i.e., face,[..] botox, etc. Therefore the book is written somewhat as a clinical history until she closes with her personal story which is quite interesting. She uses herself as the new American who obsesses with not growing old and builds a compelling case that Americans will use more and more plastic surgery as some South American countries are currently experiencing.

Overall, a quality book on the subject. Personally, I preferred the recent "Confessions of a Park Avenue Plastic Surgeon" for a summary of the issue and more in depth personal stories from the perspective of doctor and patient.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the paperback version of Alex Kuczynski's book, so I'll stick my review here. I don't understand why the publisher decided to muddle things up by re-launching the paperback as a new-ish piece of work with a brand new subtitle of "In Search of the Thinnest Thighs, Perkiest Breasts, Smoothest Faces, Whitest Teeth, and Skinniest, Most Perfect Toes in America." Not only is that a sales-flopping mouthful, it's also off-base. First, she hardly talks about toes. There's just a fleeting reference to them, no longer than a paragraph. Second, the book does a 360 degree look at the cosmetic surgery industry, not just the 'search' which sounds like it's purely a consumer-centric look. The subtitle of the hardcover was more spot-on: "Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery." That's a better indication of what's inside.

On page 215 of the paperback, the author notes that "(t)he multiple eyes on the cover of this book are mine..." Well, not on my paperback, with its lame 'Barbie doll pieces in a surgery pan' photo that probably got scooped off of iStockPhoto. That text should have got changed for the paperback version. Plus, the cover concept of the hardcover version - 16 marked-up instances of the author's very attractive eye - is brilliant: it completely captures the spirit of the book, in which not only does Ms. Kuczynski report on the cosmetic industry, she participates in it. In fact, as her reporting unfolds, so too does her immersion as a patient...or, at least, her level of revelations. We're told of her eyelid surgery, botox treatments, regular dermabrasion sessions, liposuction and Restylane lip injections.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not much interested in cosmetic surgery (which is not the same as plastic surgery, one of the things I learned from the book), but I am a HUGE fan of Alex Kuczynski's work so will read anything she writes. For instance, I don't like shopping, but I always read her NYT column, Critical Shopper, just for the fun of it.

As I expected, I found this a fascinating book and whizzed through it in two days. Lots of great information. As the title indicates, this isn't a guide for people who are considering cosmetic surgery, but an analysis of the industry and the trends behind it. She throws in some of her own experiences, which are just as (or perhaps more) intriguing as the reportorial sections.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book when I was having a difficult time in regards to my body image. Prior to this book, I underwent cosmetic surgery on my breasts with implants. Since day one, I was unhappy - not with the results - but with myself and my choice. I did not feel like myself anymore. I was looking for a book in which I could relate to why this culture emphasizes body image so strongly. This book helped me see that many women and men go through the same things, some fall pray to surgery, while some cannot afford it, or choose not to. Alex Kuczynski has an empowered writing style. I read this book in all of three days and loved every page of it. It was hard to put down. She discovers her own decision to undergo plastic surgery and walks you through her journey. I found this book helpful for me and I have since decided to reverse my decision and get to a more comfortable place in my life by reducing my implants for now... then eventually removing them all together. To put yourself through something equivalent to chinese foot binding all for vanity is beyond my scope of happiness. Since my own surgery, I have decided what really is important in my life, and surgery did not make me happy.

I found humor, strength, answer to my questions, and more important, guidance with this book. If you are thinking about surgery, read this book first. It may help you really think about your decision and offer you more insight before entering into a irreversvible journey of cosmetic surgery. Although implantable procedures are technically reversible, the damage done to your body, as well as the stretching of your skin, is not reversible. She discusses the realities of surgery, pains, mistakes, malpractice and quite literally, the poisons of surgery - mentally and physically. Don't be fooled, she is quite unbiased in this subject entirely because she herself has received more than one procedures herself.
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