Beauty procedures from manicures to cosmetic surgery carry risk and the potential reward of a better life

Making yourself more beautiful can result in tangible, material rewards. Pretty privilege, as it is called, can lead to greater access to money and social capital, resulting in a better quality of life.

In Brazil, this understanding that beauty is important to one’s social status and mental and emotional wellbeing has prompted the state to subsidize cosmetic surgery. But this pursuit of beauty carries a dark side, and can often mean exposure to harm. We speak to an anthropologist and a cancer researcher about the potential harm inherent in seeking beauty treatments.

Featuring Carmen Alvaro Jarrín, associate professor of anthropology at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, in the US, and Maria Zhivagui, a postdoctoral researcher in environmental toxicology and cancer genomics at the University of California, in the US. 

This episode of The Conversation Weekly was produced and written by Nehal El-Hadi and Mend Mariwany, who is also the show’s executive producer, and with assistance from our producer Katie Flood. Sound design is by Eloise Stevens, and our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Full credits for this episode are available here. Sign up here for a free daily newsletter from The Conversation.

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