David Sims, our art director, is busy doing a photo shoot with -no, not Scarlett Johansson - the famed Ms. Potato Head, to accompany our June cover story on the cosmetic surgery craze. (I hear Ms. PH is quite easy to get along with. A bit too pliable though..)

Amanda Hall is the author of "The Beauty Beast," this upcoming and compelling look at the Botox (and nip and tuck) Nation.


"Donda West, the 58-year-old mother of Grammy Award–winning rap singer Kayne West, entered a Los Angeles hospital last November to undergo breast reduction, tummy tuck, and liposuction procedures.

The former head of Chicago State University’s English Department, West had been turned down by the first cosmetic surgeon she approached. He was concerned about her pre-existing coronary-artery problems and explained that a heart attack could occur during surgery. But she ignored this surgeon and sought out another who was willing to take the risk.

West did not receive the "extreme makeover" she envisioned. One day after undergoing the surgery, she died. While the exact cause of her death is unknown, autopsy reports noted that the five-foot, two-inch, 188-pound woman had 50–70 percent blockages in two arteries—evidence of coronary artery disease.

When a well-educated but overweight woman with coronary-artery disease prefers to put herself in the hands of a cosmetic surgeon rather than a cardiologist, something is very wrong. And Donda West’s deadly preoccupation with surface appearance sadly dramatizes a much broader cultural problem.

With countless new technologies promising to "improve appearance" and "restore youth," we are assaulted with endless spectacles of degraded appearance and Frankensteinian youth. Is it just me, or does the woman on that Juvederm TV commercial look exactly like the Joker in the first Batman movie, when he’s in skin-toned makeup advertising “Product X”? It’s gotten so bad that comedienne Joan Rivers has even done a funny Geico commercial send-up, mocking her own plastically deformed, Botoxed face.

Among the other June fare: "Criminalizing Joseph Nacchio" (by Roger Donway), "Planning for Liberty," a profile of artist Jacob Collins, and a review of The Secular Conscience by our own Will Thomas.

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