Alka Vaid Menon

Jan 28, 2024

Refashioning Race

How Global Cosmetic Surgery Crafts New Beauty Standards

University of California Press 2023

Cosmetic surgery was once associated with a one-size-fits-all approach, modifying patients to conform to a single standard of beauty. As this surgery has become more accessible worldwide, changing beauty trends have led to a proliferation of beauty standards for members of different racial groups.

In Refashioning Race: How Global Cosmetic Surgery Crafts New Beauty Standards (University of California Press, 2023) Dr. Alka V. Menon enters the world of cosmetic surgeons, journeying from a sprawling convention centre in Kyoto to boutique clinics in the multicultural countries of the United States and Malaysia. She shows how surgeons generate and apply knowledge using racial categories and how this process is affected by transnational clinical and economic exchanges. Surgeons not only measure and organise but also elaborate upon racial differences in a globalised field of medicine. Focusing on the role of cosmetic surgeons as gatekeepers and producers of desired appearances, Refashioning Race argues that cosmetic surgeons literally reshape race—both on patients' bodies and at the broader level of culture.


This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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