On the rise of non-surgical cosmetic procedures 

One syringe (needle) against a pink background. Inside the syringe are what look like coffee beans.

Tweakments: Non-surgical beauty technologies and future directions for the sociology of the body

Peer-reviewed research by: Dr Anna Dowrick and Dr Ruth Holliday

While social pressures to conform to “beauty” standards can be felt throughout life, they can also be gendered and racialized. Where surgical procedures were once the main options for those looking to alter their appearance, there has been a proliferation of ‘non-surgical’ procedures on the market, offering more non-invasive options. In this article, the authors focus their attention on ‘tweakments’ – that is, procedures that use ‘injectables’ to temporarily alter appearance. Tweakments are big business, with ”botox” and “fillers” gaining in popularity. Yet these products and procedures can be seen as both common and controversial. What becomes clear in the article, and as the authors assert, context is key. Here is the abstract: 


Science, aesthetics, the body, and the concerns they attach to, such as gender, ‘race’, class, age and consumer culture, are key objects of sociological investigation. These discourses have been reignited in recent years by changes in the availability, accessibility and affordability of medicalised cosmetic procedures. The most popular of these procedures are non-surgical ‘tweakments’ to the shape and/or appearance of the face, usually through use of ‘injectables’ such as Botox and dermal fillers. This shift in focus from surgical procedures to minimally invasive injections has led more practitioners to join the market of potential providers and a wider variety of consumers to seek them out. This has been accompanied by panic about the risks to bodies and aesthetic standards if stewardship of beauty should fall into the wrong hands. We trace the history of medicalised cosmetic practices and academic discourses on the body, particularly how cosmetic practices are understood to produce the body as gendered and racialised. We then suggest future approaches for exploring the sociological significance of new cosmetic practices. We encourage researchers to explore how imaginaries of (un)desirable bodies shape debates about appropriate use of non-surgical cosmetic procedures, alongside investigation of the situated intersections of identity that are inscribed on bodies.

Click here to read the full open-access article, published in 2022 in the journal Sociology Compass.

Full Reference //

Dowrick, A., & Holliday, R. (2022). Tweakments: Non-surgical beauty technologies and future directions for the sociology of the body. Sociology Compass, 16 (11), e13044. https://doi.org/10.1111/soc4.13044

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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