October 24, 2021

Press Kit

Bio for Publicists: About ZARA STONE

Headshot-Zara Stone
Photo Credit: JD Beltran

Zara Stone is a full-time author and journalist. Her first book, The Future of Science Is Female: The Brilliant Minds Shaping the 21st Century was written to encourage a 9-13-year-old audience into STEM. Her new book, KILLER LOOKS: The Forgotten History of Plastic Surgery In Prisons, debuted in October 2021. Zara has written for The New York Times, Wired, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, Vice, the BBC, ABC News, and CNN, among others. Her on-air experience includes a stint presenting technology news for Fusion, an ABC-News/Univision collaboration, and guest spots on the BBC and SKY News in the U.K.

She’s a board member at The San Francisco Writers Grotto. Her writing has been awarded a Rockefeller Archive fellowship, a Marcus Center Fellowship, a Dow-Jones News Fund fellowship, and a Mozilla-Open News Grant fellowship. Zara grew up in London, UK, before moving to the US in 2012 to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in San Francisco and cares for three artificial houseplants.

Her hobbies include hula hooping, paddleboarding, ice cream, and speed reading. In a past life, she worked as a social media producer for the London 2012 Olympics, starred in a pilot TV show about mobile apps, and had a side gig as one of Santa’s elves.

Click to download a larger copy of Zara’s photo.

Click to download a hi-res version of Killer Looks book cover

Praise for Killer Looks:

“Riveting and well-researched…. Graceful prose bolsters this fascinating account. This is essential reading for anyone interested in criminal rehabilitation.”

–Publisher’s Weekly

For book inquiries please contact my publicist Jess Kastner jkastner@rowman.com or my agent Eliza Rothstein eliza@inkwellmanagement.com. For anything else, email me at zara@zarastone(dot)net


“One surgeon’s unconventional project provides the narrative spine for a fascinating, often shocking look inside the American prison system. Expertly and rigorously researched, Killer Looks takes the reader through the little-known practice of testing surgeries on prisoners, the rise and fall of the rehabilitation movement, the surprising economics of lookism, and the ingrained racism at the heart of all of it. Stone writes with compassion and authority. I won’t soon forget this book.”

– Mary Roach, New York Times-bestselling author of Grunt and Stiff, among others

“Through her engaging and insightful reporting, Zara Stone reveals a dark side of the history of plastic surgery. This thought-provoking read encourages us to examine the systemic problems of the criminal justice system that exist today.”

– Dr. Sam P. Most, Chief, Division of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine

PODCAST COVERAGE

Labyrinths: Getting Lost with Amanda Knox:

I chatted to Amanda about the role appearances bias plays in prisons and we discussed the challenges of incarceration. LISTEN HERE.

“In Killer Looks, Zara Stone shines a Sing Sing-wattage searchlight on the relationship between ugliness and criminality, exploring how plastic surgery can help restore self-esteem to the men—and women—made ‘bitter, resentful, and antisocial’ by their appearance. She brilliantly flips the subject to investigate why the public would prefer higher recidivism to giving felons a ‘beauty bonus.’ Killer Looks, capturing the nuances of a seven-decade social experiment with convicts, is a tour de force.”

–Joan Kron, former beauty editor, Allure Magazine, director of Take My Nose… Please! and author of Lift: Wanting, Fearing and Having a Facelift.

“Zara Stone has written a compelling, jaw-dropping book exploring one of the few unknown corners of our plastic surgery obsession – a program to fix the faces of prisoners in the hope of lowering their recidivism. The bigger question is what this decision reveals about our obsession with beauty and our fear of ugliness. A must-read.”

Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., author of Survival of the Prettiest, Harvard Medical School, Director, Program in Aesthetics and Well-Being, MGH Department of Psychiatry

“Despite our cultural focus on bias and discrimination, ‘lookism’ and ‘pretty privilege’ receive little attention. Yes, appearance matters in shamefully significant ways, especially severe defects. Killer Looks explores in an accessible narrative style the ‘dirty little secret’ of rehabilitative cosmetic surgery for criminals in the context of society’s preference for beauty. It’s an eye-opener, and essential reading in criminology.”

– Dr. Katherine Ramsland, professor of forensic psychology and author of Confession of a Serial Killer

Stone’s exhaustively researched, eminently readable book examines the fairly recent, yet forgotten practice of offering plastic surgery to incarcerated criminals in hopes of reducing the likelihood of reoffending. Interwoven with ideas about how physical appearance and race might relate to sentencing and incarceration, Killer Looks offers a unique look at the criminal justice system, and how we can reform it.”

 Gary Brucato, Ph.D., Co-author of The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime

Killer Looks is a stunning exploration of how our age-old obsession with beauty fueled research in America’s prisons that was focused on an appalling question: Is ugliness a root of crime? Zara Stone combines masterful reporting and vivid storytelling to take us into the early days of plastic surgery and a social experiment that still reverberates. She brings to life not only the inmates who received facelifts, nose jobs and tummy tucks in the name of that experiment, but also the corrections officials, judges and doctors looking for a new approach to recidivism. Along the way, it is all of us we see in the mirror, how we grew into a society that values physical beauty above all else.” 

— Katherine Seligman, author of At the Edge of the Haight, winner of Barbara Kingsolver’s PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

For book inquiries please contact my publicist Jess Kastner jkastner@rowman.com or my agent Eliza Rothstein eliza@inkwellmanagement.com. For anything else, email me at zara@zarastone(dot)net

Find Zara Stone on Twitter @almostzara