Although she passed away at age 81, Joan Rivers’s 2014 death was still shocking and unexpected. The comedian, who sadly died from complications during a minor throat surgery, was no stranger to the operating room. She once famously joked, “I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.” In her new book, Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses & Liberation of Joan Rivers, entertainment writer Leslie Bennetts reveals the childhood struggles at the root of the television host’s infamous obsession with plastic surgery.
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In her new book, Bennetts details the emotional pain and turmoil Rivers faced from an overly critical mother who constantly put her down for her weight and doubted her ability. “She grew up chubby and plain,” Bennetts wrote. “‘She has no talent,’ Joan overheard her mother say. ‘She’s throwing her life away.’” Rivers, who also felt overshadowed by her older sister Barbara Wexler’s looks, believed Barbara was “prettier and smarter.” Bennet also attributes this to Rivers’s obsession with altering her appearance.
In an interview with Barbara Walters for 20/20 a few years before her death, Joan discussed the various cosmetic procedures she’d famously undergone: two facelifts, a breast reduction, liposuction, a tummy tuck, Botox and fillers and more. Speaking with Walters on the topic she said, “We’re in a society where looks count…and all the beautiful women lie and say ‘I’ve done nothing’ and that is so unfair. And I just want women to know it’s okay, do it.”
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