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The Surgeon as Artist

As discussed earlier, there is a connection between plastic surgery and the arts; various authors have described cosmetic procedures as an art form where the surgeon is the artist and the body constitutes the canvas or the clay (see Fraser 2003; Gilman 1999; Haiken 1997). Some of the early cosmetic surgeons already drew a parallel between cosmetic surgery and the work of artists, particularly sculptors; John Orlando Roe (1849-1915), for example, remarked how “the surgeon must be not only an artist but also more or less of a sculptor, with perception of symmetry as related to the different [facial features]” (quoted in Gilman 1999: 93). In line with this, Jacques Joseph (1865-1934) also viewed the plastic surgeon as an artist who “uses hammer and chisels [to] shape an object” (quoted in Gilman 1999: 149). Furthermore, in his autobiography (1943: 235), Max Thorek (1880-1960) wrote that the surgical removal of fat “is a very high type of sculpture - surgical sculpture - and the surgeon who undertakes it must possess the artistic sense of a sculptor...”. As introduced before, this emphasis on the surgeon as sculptor is reflected in the prevalence of the promotion of iiposculpture’ - alongside ‘liposuction’ - in the adverts for cosmetic procedures.

The link between cosmetic surgery and art is clearly present in the magazine data; 16% (N=61) of all adverts for cosmetic procedures contain some - mostly visual - reference to art, compared to just 6% (N=29) of the (other) beauty adverts. Moreover, several of the features on cosmetic procedures build on the link between cosmetic practices and art. An article on ‘lunch-break bum boosters’, for example, describes a Macrolane procedure as “moulding and sculpting the cheeks into shape...” (my emphasis, Marie Claire June 2010: 234); moreover, a type of “micro liposelection” is introduced under the heading “the fat sculptor” in an article on ‘Future Beauty’ (my emphasis, Marie Claire October 2010: insert 23).

The most common ways in which art is incorporated in the adverts for cosmetic procedures is by means of visuals accompanying the text, for example through illustrations and/or images of sculptures. An advert by the Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, for example, incorporates a picture of a classical(ly-inspired) sculpture in its logo and the woman’s pose is somewhat reminiscent of Velazques’ Toilet of Venus (1647-1651). In addition to references to classical(ly-inspired) sculptures, some of the adverts for cosmetic procedures in the women’s magazines include an - abstract - figure of the female form in their marketing material (see for example Figure 6.4).

In contrast to the adverts for cosmetic procedures in women’s magazines, it is far less common to see an illustration of the male body in adverts for cosmetic procedures in the men’s magazines; Transform Medical Group is the only brand that includes two small illustrations

This stock image provides an example of the type of illustration that is often part of cosmetic surgery advertising ©VectorStock

Figure 6.4 This stock image provides an example of the type of illustration that is often part of cosmetic surgery advertising ©VectorStock.

in one of its adverts (FHM June 2001: 255). As is the case with some of the pictures in adverts in the women’s magazines, two ‘problem areas’ - i.e. a (hairless) scalp and a (large) belly - are referred to; however, unlike women’s magazines, no visual solution or outcome is presented. Moreover, rather than using a picture of a patient - as is common in the problem/solution format in women’s magazines - this representation is in illustration form, which affects its modality and diminishes the ‘realness’ of the representation (cf. Kress & Van Leeuwen 2006; Machin 2007). Reminiscent of earlier discussions, humour is a key element in this advert, as the text accompanying the illustration of the bald head asks: “losing it [hair, ed.] here?”, and then points at a large belly which no longer fits into trousers and posits, “want to [lose weight, ed.] here?”.

Cosmetic surgery providers outside of the magazine corpora also draw on the idea of cosmetic procedures as an art form; a previous version of the website of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), for example, included various images of classical sculptures. Moreover, a magazine on medical aesthetics and anti-ageing, Body Language, includes various adverts that allude to art. One of these adverts was part of a wider campaign by Teoxane, a hyaluronic acid product manufacturer, which was clearly inspired by Gustav Klimt’s paintings, particularly the ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer Г. Moreover, as can be seen in Figure 6.5, the copy of the advert states, “Let your art speak”.

Professionalism, Experience, and Expertise

Just as medical professionals are included to lend authority to the adverts, advertising, particularly for cosmetic procedures, emphasises the professionalism, experience, or expertise of medical specialists or brands. Of

Still from Teosyal Pen Making of Model (1:27)

Figure 6.5 Still from Teosyal Pen Making of Model (1:27).

Advertising - Medical/Commercial Aspects 111

Overall decline in references to ‘credentials and professional memberships’, ‘expertise and specialty’, and ‘experience’ in adverts for cosmetic procedures across the magazines 2001-2015

Figure 6.6 Overall decline in references to ‘credentials and professional memberships’, ‘expertise and specialty’, and ‘experience’ in adverts for cosmetic procedures across the magazines 2001-2015.

all adverts for cosmetic procedures, 4% (N=16) refer to ‘professionals’ or ‘professionalism’ explicitly; however, it is more common to refer to aspects of professionalism, such as expertise, experience, and/or particular credentials that a (medical) specialist may have.

As can be seen in Figure 6.6, the themes of experience and expertise and specialty are relatively stable across the years and can be found in approximately 30% (N=110 and N=111 respectively) of all the adverts for cosmetic procedures. In contrast, references to a surgeon’s credentials and/or professional memberships increased between 2001 and 2010 but were absent from the 2015 data. This absence is surprising as both the government and the industry have warned the public to choose registered, accredited physicians.

References to credentials and experience are also used to market (other) beauty products, albeit far less frequently than in advertising for cosmetic procedures. Overall, 3% (N=14) of adverts for (other) beauty products/services refer to credentials or a membership of a certain professional association and only 2% (N=11) of the adverts highlight the experience that a brand has in a particular field. More popular are references to expertise and specialty; 15% (N=73) of the beauty adverts refer to this theme.

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