Photographer Philip Toledano‘s series “A New Kind of Beauty” raises some interesting questions about the relationship between plastic surgery and beauty–questions we’ve wrestled with on this very blog. Can altering oneself cosmetically be a form of self-expression? Or is it always, at least in part, determined by prevailing opinions about beauty? Opinions, of course, that are often sexist, racist, classist and all kinds of barbaric.
Toledano’s strange, unsettling images concern those who have taken plastic surgery to extremes, but depicts them in classical portraiture. He describes the series on his site, “Beauty has always been a currency, and now that we finally have the technological means to mint our own, what choices do we make? Is beauty informed by contemporary culture? By history? Or is it defined by the surgeon’s hand? Can we identify physical trends that vary from decade to decade, or is beauty timeless? When we re-make ourselves, are we revealing our true character, or are we stripping away our very identity?”
We’re not sure if, in exploring the subject, Toledano meant to underscore how extreme plastic surgery often causes those who have it to look less like individuals and more like each other. This is the case particularly with those opting for exaggerated femininity: all the blown-out lips, gigantic breasts, arched brows and rippling extensions are as much a “new kind of beauty,” as they are striking in their sameness. Toledano describes this as “an amalgam of surgery, art, and popular culture?” and goes so far as to ask if these are the “vanguard of human induced evolution.” We put up a couple of his portraits here, but take the time to see the rest. Be warned that many on his site are NSFW.
(via Divine Caroline)