Beauty Junkies by Alex Kuczynski
Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery

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A star writer for the New York Times Styles section captures the follies, frauds, and fanaticism that fuel the American pursuit of youth and beauty in a wickedly revealing excursion into the burgeoning business of cosmetic enhancement.

Americans are aging faster and getting fatter than any other population on the planet. At the same time, our popular notions of perfect beauty have become so strict it seems even Barbie wouldn’t have a chance of making it into the local beauty pageant.

Aging may be a natural fact of life, but for a growing number of Americans its hallmarks—wrinkles, love handles, jiggling flesh—are seen as obstacles to be conquered on the path to lasting, flawless beauty. In Beauty Junkies Alex Kuczynski, whose sly wit and fearless reporting in the Times has won her fans across the country, delivers a fresh and irresistible look at America's increasingly desperate pursuit of ultimate beauty by any means necessary.

From a group of high-maintenance New York City women who devote themselves to preserving their looks twenty-four hours a day, to a “surgery safari” in South Africa complete with “after” photographs of magically rejuvenated patients posing with wild animals, to a podiatrist's office in Manhattan where a “foot face-lift” provides women with the right fit for their $700 Jimmy Choos, Kuczynski portrays the all-American quest for self-transformation in all its extremes. In New York, lawyers become Botox junkies in an effort to remain poker-faced. In Los Angeles, women of an uncertain age nip and tuck their most private areas, so that every inch of their bodies is as taut as their lifted faces. Across the country, young women graduating from high school receive gifts of breast implants – from their parents.

As medicine and technology stretch the boundaries of biology, Kuczynski asks whether cosmetic surgery might even be part of human evolution, a kind of cosmetic survival of the fittest – or firmest? With incomparable portraits of obsessive patients and the equally obsessed doctors who cater to their dreams, Beauty Junkies examines the hype, the hope, and the questionable ethics surrounding the advent of each new miraculous technique. Lively and entertaining, thought-provoking and disturbing, Beauty Junkies is destined to be one of the most talked-about books of the season.

About Alex Kuczynski

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ALEX KUCZYNSKI, a reporter for the New York Times for eight years, is now a columnist for the Styles section. She has written for the Times on such wide-ranging topics as Botox, Britney Spears, and Buddhism, and her work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, the New York Times Book Review, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in New York City.
Published October 17, 2006 by Harmony. 304 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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New York Times Style reporter Kuczynski injects her experiences as both participant and observer into these revelations about the costly and painful business of fighting off age and battling imperfections through cosmetic surgery.

Jul 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $1...

The New York Times

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Or at least I was never going to be so good at anything that I would have made a difference.” The disguise of a woman who has sewn, injected and scraped her surface into a masked carapace is only a distraction from her profound, perhaps unconscious sadness.

Oct 22 2006 | Read Full Review of Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $1...

The New York Times

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She neglects, for example, to mention the sobering recent studies suggesting that women who have had cosmetic surgery are three times as likely as their sagging peers to kill themselves.

Oct 22 2006 | Read Full Review of Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $1...

The New York Times

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Two-thirds of the way into her book, Kuczynski takes a detailed detour into an account of her own adventures, lasting almost a decade, with “what we refer to in New York as maintenance.” This personal story — in which she moves from microdermabrasion to collagen treatments to Botox injections to ...

Oct 22 2006 | Read Full Review of Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $1...

Entertainment Weekly

Like any workmanlike women's magazine piece stretched to 278 pages — which is exactly how this reads — Junkies has factoids aplenty (''tummy tucks are up 144 percent''), some vaguely embarrassing personal anecdotes (a kid at a swimming pool points out Kuczynski's lipo scars), and far too many sk...

Oct 13 2006 | Read Full Review of Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $1...

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