Hope Donahue seemed to have it all: beauty, wealth, social status. She was an only child who grew up with the best private schools, debutante balls, and a home in Hancock Park, Los Angeles’s old-money enclave. But beneath the family’s fašade of “keeping up appearances,” Hope hid a host of ugly truths, including a mother increasingly jealous of her daughter’s good looks, an uncle’s sexual advances, and a father who cowed to the demands of his wife and coolly reserved parents. Hope became addicted to a quest for physical perfection in place of her self-esteem—and by the age of twenty-seven she had undergone seven plastic surgeries. In riveting, unflinching prose, Hope recounts her downward spiral that alienated her family and friends, and led her to theft, bankruptcy, and a sadistic relationship before she began her recovery.
A powerful response to a culture obsessed with extreme makeovers and risky procedures that promise flawlessness, Beautiful Strangeris a timely, cautionary tale. Her story will inspire the countless women and men like her who struggle every day in a culture that feeds us dangerous images of unattainable perfection.
“Beautiful Strangeris a dark, scary, and important story of how broad social trends shape the suffering of individuals—how, in the author’s case, the beauty addiction of a whole culture is mapped onto a dysfunctional family and an obsessive compulsive disorder. Donahue perfectly captures the predatory style of a certain kind of surgeon—at once seductively flattering and solicitous and yet always on the prowl for access into the faces and bodiess of the vulnerable.” —Virginia L. Blum author of Flesh Wounds