Ordered what was hers

If the gaze can be understood to mark the disjuncture between how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen by others, the cosmetic gaze–in Bernadette Wegenstein’s groundbreaking formulation–is one through which the act of looking at our bodies and those of others is already informed by the techniques, expectations, and strategies (often surgical) of bodily modification. In The Cosmetic Gaze, Wegenstein charts this synthesis of outer and inner transformation. (Synopsis adapted from Google Books)

“The origins of the word cosmetic go back to the Greek kosmetikós-relating to adornment. The verb kosmein means both to arrange and to adorn. Cosmetic, then, is derived from cosmos-something that was there to begin with but was there precisely to be put in order. A correlate to this order that precedes itself is the intimate self-identity that is the ultimate object of the gaze and that is, like the cosmos itself, already structured by a preceding adornment. The self, at its origin and centre, is cosmetic all the way down. The cosmetic gaze believes in the body as the cosmos, the original (holy and whole) place, and at the same time is the operative force in its construction as endless adornment.” [1]

[1] Bernadette Wegenstein, The Cosmetic Gaze, Body Modification and The Construction of Beauty, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2012), 10.