What’s at stake in the pursuit of becoming so flawless you appear…inanimate? M·A·C puts a human face to these living dolls.
Instagram filters. Glossy ads. Airbrushed covers. We know what these pristine images are meant to convey, yet it’s hard not to imagine how much better life would be if lived in Photoshop. So, what happens when you try? What do impeccable standards look like offline and off the page, how much do you have to sacrifice to attain the unattainable and what’s at stake in the pursuit of becoming so flawless you appear…inanimate? Meet Valeria Lukyanova and Justin Jedlica – two figurine-like personas of pop culture. Their mission: physical perfection (or at least their interpretation of it). Whether they see their modifications as an ongoing aesthetic art project or process of portraying their inner selves through their outer shells, we interviewed them to put a human face to these living dolls.
The Ukrainian model, entertainer and DJ has sent tremors around the entire world with her almost unreal looks.
“Like every girl in the world, I played with dolls growing up. I had a huge collection. I sewed them clothes and, together with my friends, used them to act out entire stories in the yard. All little girls associate themselves with their favourite characters and toys, playing as if they were them in the future. Even today, my very first doll still stands on a shelf in my room.”
“I’ve worked on my body all my life. It takes proper nutrition, an active lifestyle and skincare. But I'm not against plastic surgery. I believe that if a person is displeased with something, he can change it – he needs to change it! When I was younger, I had a complex that my breasts weren’t developed enough in relation to my thighs. I decided to harmonize my figure by having breast augmentation when I was 21 years old. After that, I regretted not doing it sooner! For some reason, people now call my look ‘doll-like’ due to my face and balanced proportions. I’m still surprised and shocked when people call me a doll, because maybe they don’t think I look real. For people like me, however, anything is possible.”
“For some reason, people now call my look
‘doll-like’ due to my face and balanced
proportions… maybe they don’t think I look real.”
“Yet even today, I'm still not satisfied. I continue to work hard on my body by observing a strict raw vegetarian diet, avoiding simple carbs and not eating anything after 6pm. I also jog and do strength training at the gym. Since I want an athletic body, but don't want to lose my small waist, my coach advised me to buy a special waist-training corset that prevents my stomach area from expanding when I exercise. I like the physique of Amazon warriors: big breasts, a six- pack and a solid figure that still looks feminine.”
“Despite this hard body, however, I also like the look of a child’s innocent face – something sweet or angelic. Inside, I’ve always felt like a child, so I’m lucky nature has given me a matching appearance. Even when I don’t wear makeup, people often think I’m 16 or younger. It’s not exactly the image of a doll that I’m after.”
“But if I could choose any body in the world, I’d prefer to live without one. I’d much rather be a free bundle of energy without form or limit. Currently, my spirit is housed within my physical form, and that's why I believe you should treat your body with care, sensitivity and respect. While I strive to become even better on the outside, all that comes from the inside. If your soul is beautiful, your body will always be beautiful.”
“I also want to break this idea that if a person takes care of his inner-world, he can neglect his appearance. That’s not right. The spirit and body are equivalent manifestations of who we are, and we must develop both in all aspects.”
To date, Justin has transformed his face and body by undergoing over 200 cosmetic procedures. This self-professed artist currently offers consulting services for cosmetic surgery enhancements and appears at plastic surgery conventions around the world.
“Growing up in a lower-income household, there wasn't a lot of extra cash for items that didn't benefit our whole family of six. I was always enamoured with art as a child – specifically sketching, painting and sculpture of the human form. Architecture was also a passion, so it’s interesting how all these interests merged in my current career as a designer for others’ bodies.”
“I think several things attributed to my fascination with plastic surgery. By the age of 12 or 13, I was enamoured with celebrity – especially Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton and Joan Rivers. They all had large amounts of plastic surgery and looked so distinctive – there was no way you would mistake them for anyone else, and I loved that! I was also infatuated with shows such as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, where the wealthy wore their surgeries as a status symbol, just as they would a Chanel suit, Harry Winston necklace or Louis Vuitton bag. The common thread I saw among celebrities and the wealthy in the 80s and 90s was plastic surgery.”
“As I grew older, I realized I could use body modification to rebel against my conservative upbringing and assert myself as a nonconformist. I could take ownership of my reality and my body, controlling who I was and how the world saw me.”
“To date, I’ve had more than 260 cosmetic procedures and 23 surgical procedures, including upper back implants, pectoral implants, bicep and tricep implants, buttock injections, teeth contouring, and lip, cheek and chin augmentations. I’ve spent at least $272,000, but haven’t worked out since 2008. To be honest, I’ve only seen the inside of a gym when filming television bits that mock how my lifestyle choices have allowed me to avoid those sweat boxes! I don’t diet or exercise.”
“To date, I’ve had more than 260 cosmetic
procedures and 23 surgical procedures…
I’ve spent at least $272,000, but haven’t
worked out since 2008.”
“While I used to think a male doll was society’s epitome of the optimal masculine aesthetic, I never thought I would or could be that, and my initial reaction to people calling me a doll was that it dumbs me down. I felt it made me sound narcissistic and superficial, while dismissing my creativity, intellect and hard work, especially in the aesthetics industry. I always preferred when people would say I was ‘different,’ ‘androgynous,’ ‘pretty’ or ‘multi-ethnic,’ but I’ve learned to love my association with a doll. For all the hardship and criticism that label has brought, I feel like my life has never had more potential.”