Selling the ‘Perfect’ Body (That Is Not Necessarily Healthy): Analysis of Femina Magazine Articles on Cosmetic Surgery

Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine the ideological assumptions on which the discourse of the cosmetic surgery is based, in a leading women’s magazine, Femina. Within the jurisdiction of Framing Theory, deductive content analysis is done to present evidence suggesting that Femina magazine’s discourse on cosmetic surgery is based primarily on a frame depicted as ‘Medicalisation of Beauty’ to facilitate the magazine to persuade its readers into accepting cosmetic surgery as legitimate. Within this broad frame of ‘Medicalisation of Beauty’, Femina also offers a wide range of representations regarding cosmetic surgery with respect to ‘identity’, ‘normalcy’, ‘agency’. This article also points out the fact that the discourse regarding risk information and devastating health complications due to cosmetic surgery has not been mentioned.

Keywords: cosmetic surgery, framing theory, femina, medicalisation of beauty, identity, normalcy, agency


Cosmetic surgery’s association with health is most often indirect as it plays a role in shaping a sense of wellbeing by altering, repairing and beautifying the body. It may not have uses as a life-saving treatment option. Cosmetic surgery was first used regularly after World War I, when treatment and reconstruction of war injuries gave hope to young soldiers. Cosmetic surgery, as we infer from the Femina articles under study, is a field of surgery where different parts of the body are given a new shape not only because of ‘abnormality’ or health reasons but also because the change might impact better and attractive looks, boost confidence and mask the signs of aging. Cosmetic surgery includes invasive procedures, which require scalpel, non-invasive procedures that typically involve injecting dermal fillers or chemicals underneath the skin and laser treatment or other procedures which involve treating the surface of the skin. Now, it is necessary to understand the market scenario of cosmetic surgery in India to further our argument as to how the discourses around cosmetic surgery have been shaped by the practitioners. These discourses are made to circulate and percolate into people’s psyche through different media. India is ranked fourth with 894,700 surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures (International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) 2010), thus accounting for 5.2 per cent of all procedures done worldwide. The increased use of cosmetic surgery is alarming as more and more individuals, mostly women are risking their health and finances for the sake of a more attractive appearance. Cosmetic procedures are often discussed along with reconstructive surgery under the term plastic surgery (Gillespie 1996). Here, it is essential to differentiate between cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery. The purpose of reconstructive surgery is to restore ‘normalcy’ and function, or to correct disfigurements and deformities from birth or accident (Gillespie 1996; Davis 1999). However, cosmetic surgery is performed primarily to enhance the appearance of the individual by altering the parts of the body, not to treat physical ailments and unlike medicine’s social mandate to improve health and physical functioning, it only improves appearances (Sullivan 1993).

Media has an important role to play in promotion of cosmetic surgery as a beauty enhancing solution with researchers coming to an understanding that newspapers, news magazines and television news constitute important sources of information and attitude formation for the public. The question being investigated in this study focuses on how the media conveys its messages? While we feel that a relationship between media representations of cosmetic surgery and women’s decisions to get cosmetic surgery may exist, it is impossible to understand this relationship without first understanding the framing of messages about cosmetic surgery in the media. Therefore, in this paper, our investigation would be to understand and evaluate the messages about cosmetic surgery, which women are exposed to in Femina, one of the most viewed women’s magazines.

In contemporary society, it is found that women face a deluge of media messages promoting ideal beauty and routes to achieve this end through the use of various products, services and cosmetic surgery. Femina magazine is one of the media institutions that perpetuates the ideals of beauty and offers solutions to body-image problems. This article focuses on the analysis of how Femina magazine uses the frame of ‘medicalisation of beauty’, a method of promoting cosmetic surgery as a medical process. ‘Medicalisation of beauty’ also implies referring to an individual’s appearance in medical terms, in order to infiltrate the concept of beauty especially among the women readers. Such infiltrative communicative processes try to convince even the half-hearted interested individuals into making a decision in favour of creating a ‘perfect body’ which will make their lifestyles better and help them be more attractive to others. Femina is a fortnightly women’s magazine with a circulation rate of 149,946 (according to Audit Bureau of Circulation, 2006) and readership of 904,000 (according to a recent National Readership Survey) which focuses on a broad range of women’s issues and concepts ranging from fashion and beauty to health and family. The objective of our study is to critically analyse through deductive content analysis, the description of the messages concerning cosmetic surgery in Femina, specifically in terms of different frameworks. Through such a study, we try to understand how the whole mechanism of the promotion of a surgery takes place by selling the ideal of a ‘perfect body’. The content analysis explores how the messages in the magazine tempt the readers into undergoing some treatment by making them feel inferior to the other/ ‘ideal’ individual. By doing so, the individual eventually gets drawn to treatments which may not be conducive to personal wellbeing or good health. In fact, such treatments and surgical procedures may lead to health risks and can hamper the biological functioning and natural growth of a person. The majority of consumers of cosmetic surgery promoted by Femina would be women as the magazine directly addresses women.

Literature Review

In order to examine what messages exist and why they may be an important factor in women’s decisions, it is pertinent to begin with focussing our understanding on how these messages are being received and internalised cognitively. The articles contain certain tropes and frames that shape and manipulate communication and cognition. Basically, the framing theory involves the messages in the media that attempt to persuade an audience to accept a situation as legitimate although it may or may not be legitimate if the concept is dealt with in deeper layers (Touarti 2007). In her thesis, Representation of Cosmetic Surgery in Women’s Magazines, Touarti used four frames which she found relevant in her study of seven international magazines namely, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, Glamour, Latina and Essence. The frames she emphasised with regard to her content analysis of the seven magazines included the medicalisation of women’s beauty, the use of surgery as therapy, the autonomous voice, and perfection as normalcy. She used these frames to understand the basis of how cosmetic surgery is framed in the media to persuade and influence the readers. In this way, we can infer that mediated messages use framing theory to persuade the audience by projecting the advices and suggestions of the media as accurate and true. Among the four frames that Touarti had referred to, the results showed that ‘medicalisation of beauty’ frame was the most dominant frame in the magazines that she had studied. Within this dominant frame, Touarti also included three minor frames: identity, which deals with the importance of self esteem that can be preserved through the process of medicalised beauty; agency, which indicates gaining the trust of the readers to make them believe they are maintaining autonomy over their bodies; and normalcy, which points out that surgery is a natural process which achieves perfect looking results and includes the need to regulate and maintain appearance through cosmetic surgery. In the limited scope and time of our study, we thought it relevant to analyse the messages framed in the Femina from the point of view of this dominant framework and theses three minor frames to understand whether these frameworks are persistent in the discourses of the Femina magazine as well.

Another study conducted by Arran Stibbe in 2004 demonstrated that magazine discourses are based on underlying ideological assumptions that decision making procedures are hugely impacted by the media. In his study regarding Men’s Health magazine, Stibbe examined the ideological assumption and frameworks on which the discourse of the magazine is based, and he found that the magazine constructs the concept of men’s health which is based on the underlying discourse of hegemonic masculinity and the constructions are defined by practitioners keeping in mind the commercial aspect of selling the ‘perfect body’. In addition, his research also pointed out, that the construction of hegemonic masculinity is associated with a variety of negative health-behaviours and strategies and those who practice certain strategies may encounter health problems in the future for which neither the magazine nor the practitioner advising in the magazine would be accountable . Apart from the dominant frame, there are minor frames where ideal man as a body builder creates a sense of identity, as a sexual champion creates a sense of normalcy and as a beer drinker creates a sense of agency (for eg: the cover line of the July-August 2000 issue ‘¾ fix every problem with Beer’).

Thus, it can well be said, from these literature reviews, that the discourse of magazine articles is based within a certain framework which may have a good amount of impact on its readers. In the first study, the author highlighted the fact that various women’s magazines used four different frames with some minor frames to influence its readers positively towards cosmetic surgery. The second study showed that Men’s Health magazine uses the ideology of hegemonic masculinity to create the concept of men’s health and influence its readers. Both these reviews emphasise the importance of understanding what strategies are exploited in the creation of biased messages in the magazines through different frameworks. Such an analysis elucidates the kind of relationship that is present between media messages and the influence that it has on its readers. Therefore, in our current study, our research objective is to evaluate these strategically constructed messages about undertaking cosmetic surgery through the dominant framework of ‘medicalisation of beauty’ with three minor frames of identity, agency and normalcy which women are exposed to in the Femina magazine.

Research Question

The above review of the literature forms the objectives of this study which is to understand and evaluate the concept of framing or underlying ideological discourses about the creation of health- beauty- perfection images through the messages in the Femina magazine about cosmetic surgery. Specifically, the study investigates the manner in which the Femina magazine frames the issues of cosmetic surgery. From the literature review, we inferred that two broad questions can be framed regarding the discourses presented in different volumes of the Femina magazine.

RQ1: Is the ‘medicalisaiton of beauty’ frame used as dominant frame in Femina magazine? This question will be investigated in a quantitative manner by operationalising the ‘medicalisation of beauty’ frame through the use of eight sub-frames which will also give an indication as to which sub-frame is most dominant within the broader framework.

RQ2: Is the magazine conveying its messages of ‘Medicalisation of Beauty’ frame through representations of Identity, Agency and Normalcy?

This question will be investigated in a qualitative manner by doing a content analysis of the responses that the medical practitioner has given as advices through the question and answer section of the Femina magazine. These two questions will unravel some mystery as to how the concept of ‘perfect body’ is being sold through media and especially through a women’s magazine like Femina.


Deductive content analysis method is used to accomplish the objective of analysing how the benefits of cosmetic surgery are framed in the discourses of Femina. Both the quantitative and qualitative methods are used to analyse the data. Our first endeavour was to understand the technique of sample selection and then to discuss the coding scheme with details of the operational definitions of indicators or the sub-frames of ‘medicalisation of beauty’.


Our sample was drawn from a total of 24 articles of the Femina magazine, covering the year 2008-2009 taken from the question and answer section of the magazine. This section covers the questions raised by individuals wanting to undergo cosmetic surgery and the answers given by qualified medical practitioners about the procedures involved in it. We selected to study the Femina because of its high circulation rate (149,946 readers according to ABC) and the importance given by the magazine to discussions on cosmetic surgery. Prior to selecting the magazine and coding the articles on cosmetic surgery, we had developed a description of cosmetic surgery which has served as the benchmark of our research.

Coding Scheme

The articles are coded with the “medicalisation of beauty” framework. This frame has been divided into eight indicators, which have been separately coded. These indicators were posited against all the questions and answers to understand whether any of the indicators were relevant for the same. The questions and answers were coded for presence or absence of indicators. If the indicators were present, the coding was given as yes, else no. Then the total number of yes was accounted for and a percentage was derived from the total number of ‘yes’ by the total number of questions asked in the one year issues of the magazine. After coding the eight indicators, we established the most dominant indicator used in the Femina magazine. Apart from that, the other three sub-frames of identity, agency and normalcy were also scrutinised through the content analysis to figure out whether there were presence or absence of any such sub-frames in this section. The results below answer the research questions and also give useful insight about the dominant frame and the sub-frames.


As far as the results for the first research question is concerned, the frame of medicalisation of women’s beauty explains cosmetic surgery as a medical process and refers to an individual’s appearance in medical terms. The dominance of this frame would be understood if the majority (85%), of indicators have been located in the text. The eight indicators developed by Tourati have been used for our investigation (flaws, genetics, illness, professional help, healthy alternative, achieving the impossible, medical environment and scientific language) to summarise the main points of this frame. The frequencies of these eight indicators are in accordance with their presence in the twenty four issues of the Femina, in the year 2008-2009. The units of analysis taken in this case are the question and answer section of the magazine. The questions are asked by patients interested in cosmetic surgery and the answers are given by a cosmetic surgeon. Of the eight indicators, the first indicator ‘flaws’ suggests that the magazine answered the question raised by the reader by describing the body of the individual as having a flawed shape or complexion. It was found that the doctor resorted 86% of the times to explain the need for surgery by describing the problem areas as flaws. While describing about the flaws, the magazine often used phrases like “Some might also have residual fat deposits. Residual fat deposits can be removed through liposuction.” This suggests that the magazine conforms to the belief that excess fat deposit has to be seen as a problem and reaffirms the readers’ concerns with excess fat. Many phrases, used by doctors in their answers, covey to the readers that having fat deposits in body is problematic: Consider the following statement: “fat deposits give a bottom heavy wide look and need medical corrective intervention.” Rarely did the doctor ask the reader to focus on the root cause of the problem and work towards correcting it through non- surgical or non-medical ways. The doctor sometimes ruled out the possibility of a cosmetic surgery if the patient stated: “I suffer from obesity and have a large chunk of fat in my abdominal area which has lead to umbilical hernia. I think I require tummy tuck.” The doctor advised: “Cosmetic surgery should not be considered.”

The next indicator is genetics which suggests the answer describes appearance in terms of genetics, which means whether the deformity in the body of the individual is due to a genetic disorder or hereditary factor. This indicator was occurring only 8.6% in the responses. That means that doctors did not stress much on relating appearance with the genes of the individual. There are infrequent queries like “Is there a family history or a fat gene in your family?” It is quite likely that the frequency of answers indicating a genetic disorder would be minimal because if the problem is a genetic disorder, the doctor has little to do. Prescribing some surgery leading to commercial gain for doctors might not make sense if the problem is ‘genetic’. The indicator Illness, suggesting that the doctor’s response describes appearance in terms of illness, occurred 67% and included phrases like “low thyroid hormone levels, hormonal imbalance during menopause, nutritional imbalance and certain skin disorders are the common causes for hair loss.” It is interesting to note that although surgery is undertaken because of severe illness, the percentage of this response is average because cosmetic surgery is not a medical surgery in its truest sense. Professional Help needed indicator suggests the answer expresses the need for professional help. The aim was to understand if the doctor recommends a surgery for the body-appearance-related problems expressed by the readers. It occurred quite frequently (91%) with phrases like “you require body lift surgery.” So most of the answers pointed to the fact that ‘looking beautiful’ cannot be accomplished individually. It requires the help of trained medical practitioner to attain the ‘perfect body’. Is that so? We thought beauty is perception oriented and ‘lies in the eyes of the beholder’. Now, it is lying in the eyes of the medical practitioner!

The next indicator is healthy alternative which suggests the answer has referred surgery as a healthy alternative ensuring beauty. It occurred 91% times and in phrases like “the results are fabulous and definitely worthwhile,” “a clinical examination will be required to decide on the best option.” So, the health option is also taken care of to prove that it is not only a fashion; it also keeps people’s health in good conditions. The indicator achieving the impossible suggests that the answer regarding appearance describes that perfect appearance is not at all impossible and it is possible only through cosmetic surgery. This has occurred 84.5% times in the articles with encouraging phrases like “the results are fabulous and definitely worthwhile,” and also “the advancement in cosmetic surgery techniques can certainly make your wish come true” and “post delivery fat problems can be corrected to achieve almost perfect figure.” This instils in the reader a feeling of confidence in the surgery and encourages them to undertake such treatment.

There were, however, some clear admission of cautions about the procedures for achieving the ‘perfect body’ with phrases like “to maintain the result, you should maintain your weight.” The doctor clearly states that further maintenance was required for best possible results to sustain. Another example is “post surgery, a healthy life style must be adapted to maintain the results.” And some discouraging phrases are also said by the doctor like “deviated noses are relatively more difficult to completely correct,” and “at the moment a dramatic change in skin colours is not possible with medical treatment,” and “stretch marks on the arms are usually not treated surgically.” Here, the expectations of the reader are kept realistic. Not only cautionary information were shared with the readers, sometimes the reader was offered some alarming answers like “if you are expecting perfect results, you may be disappointed,” and also “the effect of facial rejuvenation surgeries (face lift, brow lift, eye lid surgery, neck lift etc.) lasts for 10 years provided you do not lose weight rapidly or expose yourself to harsh sun.” The doctors sometimes share their disappointment about the limitations of cosmetic surgery with the readers: “there is no surgery to remove the dark colour of the lips but tattooing of the lips can be done.”

The next indicator, medical environments suggests the answers describing environment in the form of medical facilities, and it occurred 86% with phrases like “all these procedures are hospital based surgeries requiring 3-4 days hospital stay.” This is like a cross promotion where the medical practitioner is also suggesting that the patient needs hospitalisation for undergoing such surgery. The last indicator mentioned in the articles is scientific language which suggests that the answer describes appearance in terms of scientific and medical processes. It occurred 95% and very dominantly throughout the articles with the most number of mentions in comparison to other indicators with phrases like “the abdomen, sides, back and buttocks can be treated in one session by a central body lift or belt lipectomy,” “larger and multiple areas can be treated with injection lipolysis.” Through the use of medical terms, the doctor is trying to create some sort of credibility in his advices.

Among the twenty four issues, the respondents considered were

58. The total significance of the frame of ‘medicalisation of beauty’ with respect to the magazine’s suggestion to undergo a cosmetic surgery was 76.3%. We considered 85% as the benchmark for high level of significance and an indicator endorsing the cosmetic surgery from the point of view of the patient and the doctor. We found that 60.3% answers were above this benchmark. Scientific language was the dominant indicator with mentions of 94.8%. The other indicators crossing the benchmark of 85% were 62.5%, with indicators like flaws, professional help, and healthy alternative and medical environment being among them. This shows that ‘medicalisation of beauty’ is a dominant discourse in the question and answer columns of Femina with answers by doctors containing scientific languages to reinforce trustworthiness. The high percentage of answers favouring cosmetic surgery implies that benefits of surgery are highlighted and possible after effects are not discussed much. The cost of such surgeries also remains unmentioned. Femina gives a disclaimer that it is not responsible for any unfavourable occurrences resulting from following the advice in the magazine. We do not know, whether the doctor can be held responsible for any mishaps or if s/he is also a creation of the magazine! This proclaimed ‘unaccountability’ is intriguing. Every small deformity is put into microscope and viewed as a problem to be surgically solved. The indicators point out that the patients are encouraged to undergo cosmetic surgery, oblivious of the health consequence to achieve the socially constructed ‘ideal’ beautiful body.

As far as the second research question is concerned, we felt that while using the frame of ‘medicalisaiton of beauty’ to convey its message, the Femina magazine builds the discourse that beauty-related problems are not only medical problems that can be offered medical treatment but are also related to identity, agency and normalcy. To substantiate this issue further, the concepts of identity, agency and normalcy have been co-opted into the frame of ‘medicalisaiton of beauty’.


Within the framework of ‘medicalisation of beauty,’ the magazine appeals to readers through psychological reasoning. It would seem logical and even ethical to rely on cosmetic surgery as a non-verbal (symbolic) self-expression as a decision-making, successful individual capable of taking care of oneself. Within the identity frame, our endeavour is to show how within the ‘medicalisation of beauty’ frame,

the Femina magazine resorts to using psychological and emotional wellbeing to further legitimise cosmetic surgery. Femina magazine discusses the importance of self-esteem, which can be preserved through the process of medicalisation of beauty. For example, statements are used to emphasise how “rhinoplasty, tummy tucks, liposuction and eye lifts can provide a psychological boost and restore youthful confidence” (Femina, March 2004: 42). While using the identity concept, the magazine focuses on personal benefit and not so much on meeting societal standards. It suggests that richness of new-found identity achieved through surgery would befit the inner self. The ‘medicalisation of beauty’ frame has been made viable through its representation as realisation of an ‘identity’ which is better than the pre-surgery identity. It involves cosmetic surgery as a way of improving both the body and the emotional well-being of an individual. Within the identity concept, the magazine conveys the message that the ‘medicalisation of beauty’ is essential because it also affects the identity related psychological concerns. To put it differently, beauty related matters need to be medicalised as they will impact the identity and self-image of the person seeking appearance enhancement. ‘Medicalisation of beauty’ helps in identity construction which would be essential both for personal and professional image improvement. Many times, the readers have expressed that they feel that their body is not a true representation of who they would like to be or hope to be. The identity that they had created for themselves in their ‘inner consciousness’ was not aligned to the ‘outer identity’ that was their appearance. ‘Medicalisation of beauty’ is linked to identity in the discourses of Femina to convince the readers that for realisation of ‘true, authentic’ identity of the self, ‘medicalisaion of beauty’ is essential. The inner identity will find true alignment with the outer identity only through the process of medication and the shaping of the body through surgery. This sounds more like a ‘spiritual’ mission and responsibility that one should undertake and fulfill.


‘Medicalisaiton of beauty’ is linked to agency to co-opt, repackage and resell the feminine identity to empower women. Under this concept of agency, the hidden agenda is to gain the trust of the reader that they are maintaining autonomy over their bodies. Jennifer Cognard-Black (2007) has explained how plastic surgery has co-opted feminism as magazine uses the messages of feminine empowerment to support the practise of cosmetic surgery. (“Extreme Makeover: Feminist Edition”). Similarly, the Femina creates the link between ‘medicalisaiton of beauty’ and Agency. Accordingly, the discourse that the magazine conveys to its readers is that, when women/readers express the medicalisation needs for beauty enhancement, it is a way of exercising a degree of control over their circumstances and their body. Words like ‘Congratulations’, ‘Customised’, etc. are used in this respect. This concept of Agency emphasises the individuality of the patients in the process of creating a beautiful appearance through cosmetic surgery. The magazine does this through its emphasis on the patient’s role in deciding to get operated and how surgery is customised to individual needs. Through statements such as “patients can pick and choose from a smorgasbord of rejuvenations – fat injections, Botox,” the illusion of choice-making is sustained. The suggestion that women who have decided to have cosmetic surgery are “eager to display the way they’ve taken control of their bodies” (Femina, January 2008: 136) uses powerful pro-active language that can make the reader want to take similar decisions. The use of this frame in the Femina magazine is interesting because the articles are often written by professionals who emphasise their role and skill in the process of surgery. But emphasising the role of the patient’s decision and desires seems to undermine the importance of the surgeon.


This magazine has redefined the body in terms of a different kind of normalcy by suggesting that the ‘sise’ of our hips and thighs is a ‘normal’ medical concern or we have the responsibility to ‘normalise’ our bodies according the accepted norms of ‘healthy’ sise, shape and function. The shape of breasts, the transformations and changes in skin after childbirth, expression of age on face are being reclassified as ugly and ugliness as an illness. All these illness as framed by the magazine are surgically-correctable problems. Therefore cosmetic surgery is shown as a process leading to ‘normalcy’ like any other medical intervention including treatment and therapy. The author talks about the deformities of aging. These kinds of messages conveyed by the magazine influence the reader to believe that it is normal to think of a cosmetic surgery if they deviate from any of these medicalised norms of beauty. The normalcy concept emphasises that cosmetic surgery is a natural ‘normal’ process which aspires for perfection. The concept includes the need for regulating and maintaining one’s appearance through cosmetic surgery. The magazine overwhelms the reader with messages that tell them how they should look by giving them assurance that it is normal to undergo cosmetic surgery if they suffer from the illness of ugliness that makes them deviate from the ‘norm’. Within the medicalizaiton frame, the author provides the readers with reassurance that they can be cured and made ‘normal’ if they opt for cosmetic surgery. So we can infer that the magazine tries to portray cosmetic surgery as normal as any other health related treatments. It is also ‘normal’ for any such magazine to sell a dream-product which is the ‘perfect body’ in this case.


The media and health-beauty industry nexus operates in an insidious manner. As the magazine articles and the featured answers to queries of potential consumers of cosmetic surgery indicate, the institution of cosmetic surgery has used the ‘medicalisation of beauty’ frame to allure consumers with a possibility of getting a figure that conforms to the ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ ideal constructed by the Femina magazine and other media. This dream of perfection seems to be achievable through treatment and surgery prescribed in the magazine by those who are part of the medical/ cosmetic industry. In order to establish this fact, the magazine has used certain dominant indicators to make the readers convinced about the credibility of treatment and surgery. The magazine also re-confirms the credibility of the advices with an image of the doctor and list of foreign degrees that he has acquired. For the Indian readers, this serves as an evidence of the doctor’s credentials and many would not hesitate to follow her/his advice. In order to further strengthen its position in advocating cosmetic surgery, the magazine has used the notion of identity, agency and normalcy to establish the fact that the ‘normal’ body is the ideal body and surgery is the only option to get the ‘normal’ body.

In this sense, whether a person wants a ‘normal’ body or an idealised body perceived as beautiful, the choice is the same: cosmetic surgery. Issues concerning necessity of the surgery prescribed, health, costs, side-effects and post-operation care have been deliberately sidelined or silenced. It seemed that cosmetic surgery is a panacea for any deviation from the norm. In fact, the beauty industry promotes a discourse that ‘good looks’ is one of the ‘qualifications’ for achieving success in careers. However, the ideology and economy of beauty also ensure that particular kinds of looks are valorised over the other, thus generating a neurosis about looks – a theme studied by Susan Bordo in her Unbearable Weight (1993) where she explores the drive to thinness because being thin is viewed as a condition for being beautiful as per the ‘norm’.

This study suggests that people who are figure conscience are bound to fall into the ‘trap’ of ideal figure and may choose to undergo surgery. Publications like the Femina magazine are commercial magazines endorsing products and services and so not to be taken as some kind of authority in medical science. The content analysis definitely shows trends of commercial strategies and ‘selling the ideal of perfect body’ by doctors for indirectly promoting treatment surgery and hospitalisation. The magazine is used as a platform for selling beauty products and services. Following the advices given in magazines that have a subtle commercial agenda, in a lot of ways, may lead to health hazards which have repercussions on the female body. Whether these advices help in achieving the ‘ideal beauty’ is still a matter under investigation.


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POONAM BISHNOI. She is a student, Fellow Programme in Management Communications, Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad.

SABYASACHI DASGUPTA. Sabyasachi Dasgupta is a student, Fellow Programme in Management (Communications), Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad.

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POONAM BISHNOI. She is a student, Fellow Programme in Management Communications, Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad.SABYASACHI DASGUPTA. Sabyasachi Dasgupta is a student, Fellow Programme in Management (Communications), Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad.

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