America's breast implant craze: exploring the politics of a postmodern gendered body

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Stephen M. Fjellman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Shearon A. Lowery

Third Advisor's Name

Guillermo J. Grenier

Date of Defense



This master's thesis concerns the increasing popularity of cosmetic breast augmentation in America in recent years. Specifically, statistics indicate that between 1992 and 1998 there has been a 306% rise in the number of breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. (ASPRS, 1999). Why do women elect a surgery to cosmetically augment their breasts?

Taking a postmodern theoretical approach, this research offers a meta-theory for women's desires and ultimately their decisions for cosmetic breast augmentation. It entails examining a multiplicity of converging micro- and macro-level social forces, subject to historical, cultural, economic, and religious and philosophical interpretation.

Supplementary interviews provide additional theoretical support and direction, engaging the discourse of women in response to one, open-ended question, "Why is it that a woman would desire and ultimately decide to have cosmetic breast augmentation or enhancement?" Together these women's personal narratives reveal a metadiscourse on the politics of a postmodern gendered body in America.



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