"Currently, for many people in the upper-middle class in the United States and perhaps in other parts of the world, face lifts and the cheaper alternative, botox, have become the norm, a regular medicalized procedure they undergo to increase job potential, gain status or erotic opportunity, and achieve control over their social mobility and class position in a constantly unstable world. If Lily Tomlin no longer has the wonderfully expressive face she had as a comedienne, in Damages her appearance well matches her role as a tastefully coiffed and botoxed rich-man’s-wife. In this show, most of the characters are upper-middle class, so that the actors’ cosmetically worked-on faces fit well with the narrative’s entrepreneurial psychology, one that neoliberalism now imposes on the managerial class: work on yourself, develop yourself, make good choices, take charge of your life—especially in terms of services you can buy.
"In current television and popular culture, there is a significant division between connotative imagery, as in the photos above of actors and public figures, and the televisual narrativization of plastic surgery and other personal “makeovers.” On the one hand, we have that which is merely suggested. On the other, we have shows such as Extreme Makeover, The Biggest Loser, or What Not to Wear which depict how people, often lower middle class or working class, submit to regimens of authority dictated by experts in the fields of fashion, personal appearance, and physical culture. These are disciplinary regimes, as described by Michel Foucault; the shows’ participants are expected to internalize the experts’ norms. Both within the shows and in the eyes of viewers, all the minute aspects of the participants’ bodies are judged, evaluated, objectified, and constantly measured for deviation and conformity. Those on the makeover shows are rehabilitated through monitoring and regulation—both the authorities’ taste and their own internalization of the authorities’ norms."
—Julia Lesage, "Watching for Botox" (here).