By Bernadette Wegenstein
If the gaze might be understood to mark the disjuncture among how we see ourselves and the way we wish to be obvious by means of others, the beauty gaze--in Bernadette Wegenstein’s groundbreaking formulation--is one wherein the act of taking a look at bodies and people of others is already expert by way of the recommendations, expectancies, and methods (often surgical) of physically amendment. it's, Wegenstein says, additionally a moralizing gaze, a manner of our bodies as watching for either actual and religious development. within the beauty Gaze, Wegenstein charts this synthesis of outer and internal transformation.
Wegenstein exhibits how the beauty gaze underlies the “rebirth” celebrated in today’s makeover tradition and the way it builds upon a physique idea that has collapsed into its mediality. In today’s attractiveness discourse--on fact television and sites that acquire “bad plastic surgery”--we yearn to adventure a bettered self that has been reborn from its personal flesh and is now itself, like a digitally remastered personality in a vintage Hollywood motion picture, immortal.
Wegenstein lines the beauty gaze from eighteenth-century rules approximately physiognomy via tv makeover indicates and facial-recognition software program to cinema--which, like our different displays, by no means ceases to teach us bodies as they can be, drawing existence from the very beauty gaze it transmits.
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Extra info for The Cosmetic Gaze: Body Modification and the Construction of Beauty
It is a result of his monadic believe that “each trait contains the whole character of man, as, in the smallest of the works of God, the character of Deity is contained. . Every minute part has the nature and character of the whole. ”62 The ideal outer display of a woman is supposed to be harmonious, the eyes should be straight looking and focused,63 and there should be a symmetry within all facial parts. Harmony and symmetry are markers for all Tracing the Cosmetic Gaze 21 of Lavater’s positive female characteristics—motherliness, female wisdom, and devotion (which is the most desirable trait of a female appearance).
Swann did not “see” Odette’s beauty, however, but was disturbed by the disharmonies in Odette’s face: “Her profile was too sharp, her skin too delicate, her cheekbones were too prominent, her 24 Chapter 1 features too tightly drawn, to be attractive to him [Swann]. ”76 Swann deduces from Odette’s disharmonious appearance a “bad mood”—an emotion or an emotional expression that he disliked about Odette. In the following section, the portraitistic, physiognomic eye’s ability to implement an adorning gaze with the possibility of seeing a better, more beautiful body is “outsourced” to an apparatus other than the naked eye.
3) I superimposed the portraits like the successive leaves of a book, so that the features of each portrait lay as exactly as the case admitted, in front of those of the one behind it, eye in front of eye and mouth in front of mouth. . (4) I fastened the book against the wall in such a way that I could turn over the pages in succession, leaving in turn each portrait flat and fully exposed. (5) I focused my camera on the book, fixed it firmly, and put a sensitive plate inside it. ”84 It did not occur to Galton that drawings and photography could take part in the visual realities produced by them.
The Cosmetic Gaze: Body Modification and the Construction of Beauty by Bernadette Wegenstein