Profile Books (January 2009)
In the past decades, the pressure to perfect and design our bodies has been unprecedented. Breast enhancement is a sweet sixteen birthday present in the suburbs of America, while eating problems - from bulimia to obesity - are growing daily, affecting girls as young as six. The body is no longer a given and to possess a flawless one has become the ambition of millions.
In China, women are having their legs broken and extended by 5cms. In Iran, behind the Hijab there are 35,000 cosmetic nose reconstructions a year. In Brazil breasts and bottoms are reshaped along with the face so that women there, as in China and Iran (and pretty much everywhere else in reach of global media) can reflect western norms of beauty.
In her years of practice as a psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach has come to realise that the way we view our bodies is the mirror of how we view ourselves: our body becomes the measure of our worth. In this book, she finally raises the fundamental questions about how we got there.
Professor Susie Orbach is a visiting professor at LSE.