Recently, NBC News, and the Wall Street Journal devoted features to what they claim, to an editor, is an American “obsession” with being thin. There may have been many more reports devoted to the topic—now that the passive-smoke issue is passe, people are refocusing their attention on the state of bustlines, waistlines, buttocks form, etc., etc., etc.

For years, people have struggled with diet, stuffing themselves with bran or grapefruit or rice, while attempting to abstain from foods that don’t leave the abdominal region feeling like a bowling alley. The other part of the equation is exercise. Despite the efforts of running-shoe manufacturers and Vic Tanny ads showing Cher looking like she just crawled off the set of Mad Max IV, working out is usually meant to make proper clothes fit well. And who would want to sweat in ultracostly ensembles?

The point is, both diet and exercise require suffering. No matter how strong the desire to look good, the physics of inertia and the instinct for calories from nonnutritional sources (e.g., White Castle hamburgers, hot fudge sundaes) are more compelling. Today’s pop-culture person is in a quandary.

But medical technology has come to the rescue. Now we can have our Dove Bar and eat it too.

The July issue of D, the Dallas city magazine, includes a feature modestly titled “The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Dallas.” We are made to realize we are not merely in Texas, which in itself is astounding, but in its pivotal point. One article in the guide is “The Women: Why They Look So Good” and explains why Dallas has “more than its share of gorgeous women.” The authors (two women) maintain the reason for this blessedness is that the Dallas Woman spends inordinate time curling eyelashes, applying makeup, and, yes, actually exercising in outfits Ordinary Women can only gaze at in fashion magazines.

But the real reason why there are so many daughters of Aphrodite in Dallas is to be found on the following page. It’s not magical, nor is it chemical—more to the point, it is medical. So much for romance. The page in question includes an ad for the Aesthetic Surgical Center, which is not to be confused with your local College of Beauty Culture.

At the risk of providing a free ad for the firm, the level to which medical science has taken us must be cited in a hungry Homeric list. To wit:

*Abdomen: Abdominoplasty, suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL)

*Arms: Lipectomy, SAL

* Breasts: Augmentation mammoplasty, gynecomastia, mastopexy, reduction mammoplasty

* Buttocks: Buttock lift, fat reintroduction, SAL

*Cheeks: Malar augmentation, SAL

*Chin: Augmentation mentoplasty, reduction mentoplasty, submental SAL

*Ears: Otoplasty

*Eyes: Accents permanent lashliner, blepharoplasty

*Face: Forehead lift, rhytidectomy, SAL

*Hair: Flaps, plugs, scalp reduction

*Hips: SAL

*Mouth: Augmentation cheiloplasty, reduction cheiloplasty

*Nose: Rhinoplasty

*Skin: Chemabrasion, dermabrasion, zyderm collagen, zyplast collagen

*Thighs: SAL, thigh lift.

Certainly, one can only stare in wonder at this technological arsenal of plastic reconfiguration.

Far be it from me to impugn the beauty of the women of Dallas. I lust in my heart as well as the next guy. But the whole thing strikes me as analogous to the food-engineered Butterball turkey: It sure may look good, but it can’t sing.