“The Face Value of Dreams”: Gender, Race, Class, and the Politics of Cosmetic Surgery

  • Victoria M. Bañales


Why is the woman in the photograph covering three-quarters of her face? Only parts of her eyes, eyebrows, and forehead are visible (figure 7.1). At first glance, it seems as though she is guarding against hazardous fumes, covering her nose and mouth. Her overall counte-nance is one of pain, and one suspects that she is perhaps crying. In fact, the person in the photo, 26-year-old Ana Ponce, is covering her face because she has just received a nose job for the “bargain-basement” price of $300. The photograph appeared in a 1998 San Jose Mercury News article entitled “The Face Value of Dreams: Bogus Plastic Surgeons Lure Peru’s Poor With Cheap Promise of Better Life,” authored by Associated Press journalist David Koop. According to the article, like Ponce, 22-year-old Maria Espichan (not pictured) awaits her turn to “straighten her curved nose” while Patricia Lira, 33 (also not pictured), expresses her desire for a fifth operation even after a series of surgically related nasal complications.


Cosmetic Surgery Feminist Critic Brand Extension Asian American Woman Socioeconomic Mobility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Neferti X. M. Tadiar and Angela Y. Davis 2005

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  • Victoria M. Bañales

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