One of NPR's Best Books of 2017
The first in-depth social investigation into the development and rising popularity of Botox
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery estimates there are about two-and-a-half million Botox procedures performed annually, and that number continues to increase. The procedure is used as a preventive measure against aging and a means by which bodies, particularly women’s, can be transformed and “improved” through the appearance of youth. But why is Botox so popular, and why is aging such a terrifying concept?
Botox Nation draws from engaging, in-depth interviews with Botox users and providers as well as Dana Berkowitz’s own experiences receiving the injections. The interviews reveal the personal motivations for using Botox and help unpack how anti-aging practices are conceived by, and resonate with, everyday people. Berkowitz is particularly interested in how Botox is now being targeted to younger women; since Botox is a procedure that must be continually administered to work, the strategic choice to market to younger women, Berkowitz argues, aims to create lifetime consumers.
Berkowitz also analyzes magazine articles, advertisements, and even medical documents to consider how narratives of aging are depicted. She employs a critical feminist lens to consider the construction of feminine bodies and selves, and explores the impact of cosmetic medical interventions aimed at maintaining the desired appearance of youth, the culture of preventative medicine, the application of medical procedures to seemingly healthy bodies, and the growth and technological advancement to the anti-aging industry. A captivating and critical story, Botox Nation examines how norms about bodies, gender, and aging are constructed and reproduced on both cultural and individual levels.
"When we think of body modification, we think of surgery -- like liposuction, face lifts,
breast augmentation. Dana Berkowitz's exciting work dramatically expands the
discussion to include nonsurgical procedures -- which account for 80% of all
procedures. Combining deft fieldwork, detailed interviews, and daring autoethnography,
Berkowitz broadens and deepens our understanding of the cosmetically altered but not
surgically redefined body."-Michael Kimmel,author of Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era
"The writing is approachable, and the research is well-documented in an appendix, making the volume suitable for methods courses."-Choice
"This book is an essential text for anyone interested in sociology and the body. Beautifully written
and personally reflexive, it is a wonderful example of the drawing together and application of
different strands of social theory -- symbolic interactionism, feminist theories of embodiment
and post-structuralism, among them. While taking very seriously the epic sociological dilemma
of structure vs. agency, it demonstrates quite explicitly how the self and the corporeal are
constructed via an emerging body technology like Botox; in turn, it shows how the meanings of
such technologies are made concrete in and through the bodies of contemporary women -- including
the author's own body."-Debra Gimlin,author of Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture
“This book is a significant contribution to understanding the ways in which the aging body is commodified in contemporary societies and how promissory discourse may shape views and actions and have inequitable outcomes. It will prove invaluable to those interested in the body and society, the sociology of health and illness, and the dynamics of new and emerging treatment markets.”-American Journal of Sociology