As per a 2/2/15 report by Inés San Martín,
"Cardinals and other Catholic prelates from around the world will gather in Rome this week to discuss women’s issues such as domestic violence, plastic surgery, and women’s contributions to the Church....the website of the general assembly is illustrated with an image of 'Venus Restored' by artist Man Ray, a plaster cast of a headless Venus tightly bound in ropes. The 1936 sculpture is intended to depict woman as a subjugated sex object, but also as a creature who rises above men’s depictions"Has Man Ray's art been given too much credit? While others may differ, the catalogue of his works strike this blogger as bizarre and possibly misogynistic (In recent years, his art has also been claimed to have one notorious connection.)! Then again, society's treatment of women is frequently bizarre and misogynistic! Does Man Ray's Venus Restored somehow warn us of hideous pressures being placed upon our daughters (and let's not forget our sons!)?
In addition to Man Ray's art, words on plastic surgery from the Outline document have also received attention (Not so much on such topics as poverty and sexual exploitation/violence!):
"In 2008, in the United States alone, over 10 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures were performed at a cost of $11.8 billion.... Since 1997, the number of men and women undergoing cosmetic procedures in the U.S. has grown by a staggering 457%. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the most requested surgery in 2008 was breast enlargement followed by liposuction, cosmetic eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty (nose reshaping) and tummy tucks (removal of excess fat and skin)" (National Catholic Register, 2/4/10).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church indeed reminds us that,
"2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.
Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance.
"2289 If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for it's sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports. By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human relationships.
"2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air."
While we have certainly become increasingly familiar with seeming excesses of cosmetic surgery, we also need to recall its legitimate role. For example, plastic surgery developed in response to efforts to assist soldiers whose faces were damaged in WW I (cf., "Faces of War", Caroline Alexander, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2007).