Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece. All recommendations and opinions posted are my own and are not associated with any institutions I am affiliated with.
Disclaimer 2: There is a fragile balance between fighting for women’s right to have surgery and feeling increased pressure to have surgery. I may not agree with women having so much surgery, but I’ll always fight for their rights to make their own decisions. This is purely my own opinion on what is certainly a sensitive subject.
Disclaimer 3: This is not for anyone, such as transgender people, who are getting surgery to become who they are supposed to be.
The plastic surgery cycle is a 20th and 21st century problem. Swathes of women with fakeness on the scale of subtle to outright garish. People feel like they need to change their exterior for multiple reasons, including the media and their own surroundings.
The media has a huge, huge role to play. Perpetuating female roles as simply ‘looking good’ – basing their values entirely on looks. It’s everywhere. It’s in magazines, it’s in movies, it has exploded online. Pages and pages of Kim Kardashian clones that you can scroll through for hours. Fake from the top to the bottom. Hair, tan, surgery, lip fillers, breast augmentation, butt implants, liposuction, etc. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on looking a certain way, that you can never afford.
A kind of dissatisfaction and disconnection with the inner self can occur as a result. You don’t have the resources to change so drastically, but you still want to, and you don’t know why.
These women often have consistent surgeries to keep themselves looking an ideal way. They are so used to seeing themselves one particular way, that a single wrinkle or a thin lip can trigger multiple procedures, rather than letting their bodies age naturally. Constant, addictive elective surgeries can be a symptom of Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) – but it is not the root source. People who focus only on the outside can be troubled, have self-esteem issues and do not address the inside, their minds, thought processes and how they treat themselves and others.
The fanatical worship of youth by society is a fundamental cause of the current feelings of fear that women (and men) feel while getting older. We hear ’40 is the new 30!’ and other quips by fluffy media outlets to try and make people feel better about their age. Certain ages are viewed as ‘better’ than others. When you’re past that age, you’re done, and you have to resort to pumping your face full of plastic before anyone will take you seriously.
Except that’s not it. Confidence and happiness is more important than having high cheekbones or a flat stomach. However to some people there is nothing that would make them happier than those things. This is part of the problem. There is nothing wrong with wrinkles or grey hair. They are beautiful also, as they prove we are still here, we’re living, we’re alive.
People having surgery are heard to say that their ‘outside doesn’t match the inside’ because of a ‘youthful’ way of thinking. However who is to say the way a person thinks is youthful or not? There are 18 year olds who are old souls, and there are also 50 year olds who will never grow up. Everyone is different. Trying to connect our inside with our outside is pointless. Our outside is purely genetics, and our inside is nurtured with education, self-love and kindness.
More people need to feel like this surgery is not necessary in the first place, as they are already perfect the way they are. As perfection is a societal construct, so it doesn’t actually exist. Time is also of huge importance, as if a girl is 18 and wants to get a procedure, the best advice is to wait a while. By the time the same girl reaches her mid-20s she may have changed her mind on so many things, and be more comfortable with herself. At 18 we are all incredibly easily influenced. Getting surgery at such a young age will skew an individual’s view of the natural aging process. It’s also likely to continue the cycle, as once they have had one surgery they may need more to maintain the upkeep.
The ‘Uncanny Valley’ has become almost the norm in Hollywood. When you look at an actor or actress and they look somewhat normal, but something isn’t quite right. There is a disconnect between what the true age of a person looks like when we see celebrities representing that age. Botox, fillers and minor tweaks in the face can age significantly worse than the natural face, giving it that ‘melted plastic’ affect.
Insecurities fuel the beauty and fashion industry. The entire business is surrounded by fakery. It would be very difficult not to be influenced in this kind of closed-in community. ‘Natural’ girls see these women and unwittingly feel pressure to change. This stacks up over a period of time, they see it in real life, in magazines, in movies, on TV and found easily on all social media.
South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world. If you watch a Kpop video there is no telling to how much facial augmentation those women and men have had. It has become so normal that people are gifting plastic surgery vouchers to their children when they reach the ‘appropriate age’. As a result, entire generations of women and men are looking exactly the same.
The women who have already had plastic surgery often have negative things said to them and said about them. This is bullying and unnecessary behaviour. Judging people for how they look only encourages the cycle.
No matter how much surgery one gets, it cannot fix a broken personality or self-esteem issues that have not been addressed.
Surgery is invasive, dangerous and comes with many risks. People have died getting breast augmentation. The body can sometimes reject the foreign objects. It is not just a next-day procedure and can take months to recover, with the results not always being what people wanted in the first place.
Women’s magazines should focus more on the internal than the external, such as having more real stories and less ‘she has cellulite!!’ or ‘Female celebrity puts on/loses weight!!’ as this encourages women to point out each other’s flaws. Women have to support each other. Help pump each other up. We all have unique lives but we are all human, we are all sharing the experience.
Why do we want to look like another person in the first place? Why don’t we want to cure disease like Marie Curie, or excel academically despite adversity like Helen Keller, or be passionate and brave like Malala Yousafzai, or push for civil rights like Rosa Parks? There are so, so many incredible women we could be emulating and drawing inspiration from, and it should be nothing about their face and body we want to copy.
Be a good role model for kids. Stop focusing on people’s looks so much. People who argue ‘aesthetics is important’ – yes it is, this is not a piece on correct grooming or the laws of attraction, it’s about the over-focus on looks before intelligence, before compassion, before kindness and before communication, are looks really more important than any of these things? No they are not.