Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (904.27 kB)

Cosmetic surgery: Curating race and romance in Cali, Colombia

Download (904.27 kB)
posted on 2022-03-28, 21:18 authored by Lorenza Irene Griffin
As access to cosmetic surgery expands beyond the lifeworlds of the rich and famous, it becomes increasingly sought out by everyday people across cultural contexts. Its popularity in the cultural and historical setting of Cali, Colombia sees cosmetic surgery emerging as a conventional form of beauty work. In Cali, many perceive beauty to be a currency and indeed a virtue, denoting values of modernity, racial prejudice, and competition in romantic markets. While men are increasingly seeking out these surgeries, cosmetic surgery remains predominantly within the purview of the city's women. As such, the dominant feminine beauty ideal is normalised, and admired. It is cultivated by means of various forms of beauty work, and ultimately through cosmetic surgical intervention. During two months of research in Cali, ethnographic research methods were used for an anthropological exploration into the underlying historical, gendered and socioeconomic issues informing Cali's dominant beauty ideal and the value of beauty in this city, which influences and reproduces women's conceptions of their bodies, and relationships. The research reveals how, and the extent to which, historical colonial and drug trafficking legacies impact contemporary constructions and expressions of beauty in Cali, and the ubiquitous practice of cosmetic surgery. I explore how beauty is imbued with values of "modernity", which are intertwined with racial stigma and neoliberal subjectivity. Further, within a traditionally machista (chauvinist) society, the operated-on body is perceived to be a source of leverage and power in romantic relationships for women.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Cali -- Part One: Infidelity and beauty in Cali -- Part Two: Discourses of race and beauty in Cali -- Concluding remarks.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 55-59

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Lisa Wynn


Copyright Lorenza Irene Griffin 2018 Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (61 pages) illustrations

Former Identifiers


Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager