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The pursuit of beauty: the enforcement of aesthetics or a freely adopted lifestyle?
  1. Henri Wijsbek
  1. Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands


    Facelifts, tummy tucks and breast enlargements are no longer the privilege of the rich and the famous. Any woman can have all these and many more cosmetic surgical treatments, and an increasing number of women do. Are they having cosmetic surgery because they are duped by a male-dominated beauty system, or do they genuinely choose these operations themselves? Feminists (and others) give diametrically opposed answers to this question. At the heart of the controversy, or so I claim in this article, lies a conceptual problem about free choice; therefore, the only thing that can settle it is a conceptual analysis of “freedom”. After having briefly outlined the views of both sides of the debate, I offer such an analysis.

    • Cosmetic surgery
    • lifestyle
    • free choice
    • coercion

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    • Henri Wijsbek is a Research Fellow on a European Biomed project called Beauty and the Doctor, Department of Medical Ethics, Faculty of Medicine and the Health Sciences, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.