Cosmetic surgery: Curating race and romance in Cali, Colombia
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 21:18 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.