Concern with body image and medical interventions related to physical beauty has greatly increased in the past few years. The purpose of this study is to investigate how medicine is dealing with the theme of beauty. The 2003/2004 editions of the periodicals Aesthetic Surgery Journal and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery were analyzed, in order to investigate the rationality buttressing their discourse. Three categories were prioritized for this study: definition of aesthetic plastic surgery's study object; beauty patterns guiding interventions; and understanding popular demand for aesthetic corrections. Discourse is sustained by biomedical rationality, structured around a disease theory and a dual construction between normal and pathological, with emphasis on biology. In the articles, the beauty patterns guiding therapeutic practices are anchored in biological norms defined through several anthropometric measures, which refer to abstract concepts of beauty, harmony, proportionality and symmetry. In this discourse, there are no references to patterns or to social norms of beauty; motivation for aesthetic intervention appears to be rooted in low self-esteem related to the aging process or to some bodily nonconformity. As per the meaning of 'medicalization' adopted herein, biomedical rationality appropriates variations or anomalies of physical appearance, thus allowing the theme to be dealt with in terms of health and disease, normal and pathological.
Medicalization; Surgery plastic; Beauty culture; Body image