Let’s Talk About Cosmetic Surgery, Please
Why is Everyone so Against Cosmetic Surgery?
Cosmetic surgery is so common these days that you can’t scroll through your Instagram feed without seeing someone who’s had some work done. Many may not believe that cosmetic surgery has been around since the late 1800s. During this period, The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery notes that the New York Medical Record published an article on rhinoplasty, “a procedure in which the structure of the nose is changed”. In other words, people began enhancing their bodies long before Pamela Anderson, Kim Kardashian-West, and Instragram were a “thing”.
The skinny on LaLa Land
Arguably, Los Angeles is the cosmetic surgery mecca of the U.S. If you spend just a few minutes at a “scene-y” spot in (West) Hollywood, you will see several people who have had work done. From Nefertiti lifts, to puckered pouts, and the very controversial Brazilian buttlift or fat grafting, you see it all in LA (and Miami, too). If you haven’t spent much time around people who could be hypersensitive about image, this may be overwhelming. However, let me confirm that it is possible to not care about what someone else does with their body. Yes, it might seem like a bit of a concept these days, but life goes on, truly.
Dreams of a little girl who watched a lot of Baywatch
As a teenager, I mused about having my breasts surgically enhanced. At 15/16, I thought big boobs looked better; more womanly if you must. Over a decade later, not only did I not have surgery done, but I don’t think large boobs suit my lanky frame. While my boobs may seem big based on the size of my bra (32DD), they’re actually pretty small. They fit comfortably in a size small or 4 and work well with any top. When chatting with my bustier friends, one of the things they complain about is an inability to wear certain kinds of tops. They rarely wear tops that highlight the shape of their bosoms or have them spilling out in any way. Moreover, they complain about the physiological issues that come with large breasts, such as: back pain and tenderness. Some of them express desires to reduce the size of their breasts; a procedure known as reduction mammaplasty. Quiet as it’s kept, breast reduction is also a form of cosmetic surgery that likely has the same mental effects on the patient as breast augmentation.
Where is the love?
Upon further reflection, I wonder why it is that the girl who wants to reduce the size of her breasts, for example, is more acceptable than the girl who wants to enhance the size of hers. Obviously, there is a lot of respectability politics concerning women’s bodies. In any given comment section of an Instagram post of a shapely woman, you will see these kinds of comments:
- You’re fake
- You have a build-a-body
- If it’s a woman with a “natural body”: “natural is so much better than all these fake bodies everywhere”
In other words, whether or not her body is natural or enhanced, women endure undue scrutiny from randoms. If that’s not weird to you, you’re likely part of the problem. Here is why it is so problematic to assume anything about a woman’s decision to have cosmetic surgery done. If the assumption is that she has a low self-esteem, how is putting her done helpful? If you understand it’s “her decision” but “this is just your (unsolicited) opinion” on why her decision was wrong, how have you encouraged her to make “better” decisions? Self-esteem and confidence cannot be purchased; these things are nurtured by our environments. Unfortunately, our environments may include people we are not connected with in any way – you know, strangers on the Internet.
Checks and balances
Now, we’re all aware of underground or black market cosmetic surgery clinics where people go to have work done cheaply and quickly. In many cases, people have died from complications of shoddy work. Why anyone would take a risk with someone who is not board certified is beyond me, but I can’t hold it against them. Could it be that our vitriolic scrutiny is driving women to enter unsafe spaces to do something they personally desire? Let’s imagine living in a world where they don’t have to do that and make it a reality.
In recent news, a Florida woman died from cardiac arrest after having work done at a Miami-based cosmetic surgery clinic. This comes on the heels of Florida lawmakers approving sweeping legislation that would allow the state to “punish dangerous plastic surgery facilities and shutdown the worst offenders”. If the bill is signed into law, this could create a trickle down effect to other common cosmetic surgery centers throughout the country. As with any profession, there is a level of legislative control that is needed to ensure that corrupted professionals do not take advantage of innocent parties. The billion-dollar cosmetic surgery industry should not be exempt from this.
Back to the meat of the issue, people need freedom to do with their bodies as they feel. As a society, it is our job to check corrupted professionals as mentioned above; but that’s about as far as our “control” should be levied. I’m hopeful that we will eventually grow weary of blaming the Kardashian-Jenners for the decisions people make to enhance their bodies. Yes, she is arguably the queen of the digital marketing age and the biggest influencer on the planet, but Kim Kardashian-West did not invent cosmetic surgery. Her openness about surgery in general is admirable, especially in an age where people are still dodging and weaving people’s opinions in hopes that no one would notice a little nip and tuck.
When it comes to the industry’s worth, there is a reason why Americans spent more than $16 billion dollars on cosmetic surgery in 2016. Personally, I’ve spent a cute coin on PCA chemical peels, acne facials, and microdermabrasion in the past year alone. If there is something about your face or body that you know can be improved with minimal invasion or downtime, and you can afford it, why not go to town?! Believe it or not, getting facials, laser treatments, and other forms of (non-invasive) cosmetic surgery can be therapeutic for some people. I know it’s therapeutic for me! Apart from eating well, working out, and getting ample sleep every night, our bodies still can do with a bit of maintenance that may cost you depending on what you’re looking to maintain. Again, I see no harm in this.
Drink more water, babe
I guess the moral of the story is fairly simple: it doesn’t cost you anything to pay no mind to what others do with their time, money, and bodies. You don’t know the internal and external battles a lot of people have to fight to get to where you perceive them to be on Instagram. I don’t care how famous or wealthy a person is, it is not your human right to criticize them in their comment sections or send unsolicited DMs. No, they don’t need to turn off their comments or log out if they don’t like your scrutiny. The fact that someone would act as if it’s their human right to have voice a loud and wrong opinion is a problem in itself. I think the older generations may refer to this as entitlement and narcissism.
As always, drink water and mind your business. Your skin will thank you.