‘Toe Job’ is as Bad as it Sounds: New Book Shows Eerie Trends in Body Modification

by Krista Ciminera

Lens Blog profiles photographer Zed Nelson, whose new book, “Love Me,” illuminates the dark places that plastic surgery continues to go.  In particular, Nelson is concerned with the homogenization that results from plastic surgery and how the people who he photographs around the world are beginning to look alike.

His photos span 17 countries, from nose jobs in Iran to leg lengthenings in China.  In the United States, one photo tells the story of a woman’s “toe job,” or toe reduction surgery, so that she can better wear her high-end high heeled shoes, and is paired with a photo of her pre-op x-ray.  In a prison in Brazil, a photo shows the winner of the annual beauty contest that takes place there, where even a maximum security prison isn’t safe from the reaches of imposed beauty ideals.

The ideal that people who opt for plastic surgery aspire for is one that is almost of anonymity, as it can remove any mark of personality or individuality.  It reminds me of the actress from Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Jennifer Grey, who got a nose job after her acting career took off, in the hopes that a smaller nose would land her more roles.  Her decision to make her nose less recognizable had the same effect on her career- her cute, quirky look was gone, and she has had no major roles since her rhinoplasty. 

Nelson’s photos, and high-profile plastic surgery flops like Grey, or the unrecognizable Courtney Love or Heidi Montag, should last as examples of what happens when you choose to erase your uniqueness.  Let’s keep what our mamas gave us!

Image top, Zed Nelson, courtesy of New York Times

Image bottom courtesy of LatestBeauty.com

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