PHOTOS: The Distressing Worldwide Boom in Cosmetic Surgery- page 1 | People & Places | Smithsonian
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(Zed Nelson / Institute)

PHOTOS: The Distressing Worldwide Boom in Cosmetic Surgery

Photographer Zed Nelson traveled the world documenting how body improvement has practically become a new religion

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(Zed Nelson / Institute)
In ancient China, where foot binding was invented, a stunted foot signified a prized comeliness. In modern Manhattan, the pursuit of beauty has led some women to surgically shorten their toes and secure them with metal pins to fit more easily into three-inch Jimmy Choo stiletto heels (Kristina Widmer’s foot, post-surgery).

For his new book, Love Me, photographer Zed Nelson traveled to 18 countries over five years, documenting extreme measures undertaken in the quest for cosmetic perfection. Nelson’s unsettling images of plastic surgeons, beauty queens and bodybuilders underscore the seduction of narcissistic compulsion. “Beauty is a $160 billion-a-year global industry,” he says. “Body improvement has become a new religion.”

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