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Joan Rivers & Addiction

shutterstock_129701255One of America’s greatest comedians, Joan Rivers, died recently. She began as a standup comedian in New York City in 1965 which parleyed into a vast arena of show business achievements. She worked hard at her artistry, and constantly reinvented herself, some would say in a literal sense via plastic surgery. She acted, directed, worked the red carpets, held a series on E!, penned 12 books, and recently published a memoir called “Diary of a Mad Diva.” Interesting choice of words. Her latest documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” features her plugging away with a relentless work ethic that goes above and beyond most what might be considered normal. In an intimate moment she shows her work calendar and all the back to back appointments and commitments with humble gratitude. Then she turned to a blank page and commented on the lack of a rigorous schedule as one of her greatest fears. It was a telling scene that reflects on her workaholic manner and need to constantly feed her addiction to work.

Interestingly enough, throughout this documentary, little was said about her addiction to plastic surgery. As years progressed, and her face showed a continual nip and tuck, she often became the subject of ridicule which some would say tainted her reputation as a comedian. The media’s focus turned from celebrating her achievements, and enjoying her bold sense of humor, to a joke.

Similar to Rivers, Michael Jackson suffered from addiction as his death unveiled his severe addiction to prescriptive drugs. One can most definitely argue he was also addicted to plastic surgery. He too was ridiculed and made the butt end of jokes for his ongoing plastic surgery, and the transformation of his face.

Addiction comes in all forms. An addiction to plastic surgery is a less talked about addiction and instead of having a cultural dialogue and show some compassion for individuals that suffer from plastic surgery addiction, we make fun of their disease. Do we make fun of alcoholics, drug addicts, and food addicts? Not really, yet, here we have two celebrities with an obvious addiction to physically changing their appearance and instead of using that as a platform to further understand and educate society on how addiction works and effects people, we make crude, rude comments that only feeds into stigmatization and a lack of potential education. The world lost a great comedian, but hopefully her death can allow us to further discuss the nature of addicts as it pertains to plastic surgery.

 “Comedy is my drug of choice. What pleasure you feel when you kept people happy for an hour and a half. It’s great.” An ironical statement given the amount of ridicule and torment she faced, for changing her face.

Busy calendar image available from Shutterstock.

Joan Rivers & Addiction

Erica Loberg

Erica Loberg was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended Columbia University in New York and graduated with a BA in English. She is a published poet and author of Inside the Insane, Screaming at the Void, What Men Should Know About Women, What Women Should Know About Men, Diamonds From The Rough , Undressed, and I'm Not Playing.

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APA Reference
Loberg, E. (2014). Joan Rivers & Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Sep 2014
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