'I want to look like that!': cosmetic surgery and celebrity culture

Anthony Elliott

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)


    This article critically examines the power of celebrity culture in relation to the rise of cosmetic surgery. The perspective developed is one that attempts to bridge certain developments in social theory and psychoanalytic studies. By drawing on Horton and Wohl's notion of 'para-social interaction', as well as Thompson's idea of 'intimacy at a distance', a critical cultural approach is developed for the analysis of how celebrity bodies become key sites of identification, imitation and desire. The article also draws from the psychoanalytic notion of identification in order to recast the relationship between fandom and celebrity. My argument is that popular and media cultures today are introducing a wholesale shift away from a focus on personalities to celebrity body-parts and their artificial enhancement. To view the body in the light of celebrity culture means, in effect, to see the self increasingly in terms of possible surgical alterations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)463-477
    Number of pages15
    JournalCultural Sociology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


    • artificial enhancement
    • body-parts
    • celebrity culture
    • cosmetic surgery
    • identification
    • popular media
    • psychoanalytic theories
    • reinvention


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