The contemporary rise in the West of cosmetic surgery as a cultural practice expresses the story of the late modern self as autonomous renovator, and the body as disenchanted raw material and individual possession. Technological biomedicine offers itself as the institution ready to assist this reflexive self in aligning the body to an individual’s inner identity. A Christian body politics, however, challenges this narrative of the human person, by claiming that gift and dependence more aptly represent human being than possession and autonomy. The rite of footwashing, particularly as articulated by Jean Vanier and practised in the communities of L’Arche, represents a sacramental practice which forms Christians in a different narrative of the body and being human. Footwashing reminds and trains members of the Body in a non-violent gentleness towards all bodies, and a recognition of humans as creatures of a good God rather than mere possessors of inert flesh.
- Cosmetic surgery