Cosmetic surgery is a controversial trend that’s returned to the fore following a report from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons revealing a 17 per cent rise in private treatments in the past year. Procedures are now available for almost every form of “imperfection”, from vaginal reconstruction to reshaping of the eyelids. I’m not sure I want to know the full menu. The increasing social acceptance of cosmetic surgery is incredibly disconcerting, but not because I am opposed to it in itself. What’s scary is the shifting benchmark of ‘normal’ appearance pushed by the beauty industry.
This convinces extremely attractive young people that without cosmetic surgery, they resemble a creature newly-risen from the deep sea. With the ubiquity America’s celebrity hub has in global media, it will only be a matter of time before this trend trickles towards the edges of civilization. Before we know it, Amazonian tribeswomen with be flaunting their liposuction. The idea of dangerous and painful procedures being an expectation is nothing short of ridiculous. It would be hard to argue that peer pressure on any level is acceptable, and this takes it to new extremes.
Specifically regarding the impact on the female gender, a quick browse of the covers dominating the women’s magazines in any newsagents would highlight the shame economy on which the beauty industry thrives. Somehow, pictures of celebrity women in bikinis, showing off figures that unsurprisingly do not resemble the photoshopped bodies photo shoots portray them to have, continue to shift copies week after week. It is becoming so repetitive, all that really needs to be changed with each issue is the date. Ramming such degrading judgement down women’s throats is irresponsible journalism. It convinces people that certain appearances are worthy of mockery and that if they do not alter the way they look, they will face similar mockery.
Another reminder that shards of the glass ceiling still remain (ready to cut you on your way skyward), one that has prominently featured in recent news, is the revelation that beautiful women are likely to advance further in their careers than their less aesthetically inclined counterparts.
In a supposedly meritocracy based world, modeling is the only profession in which appearance should play a role in your employment status.
Facing such strong consequences for not looking the way you are expected to is another indicator of the extreme pressure to get plastic surgery many women face.
However this does not mean the concept of cosmetic surgery is inherently evil. As cushy as it would be if self-love were as easily taught in schools as the likes of History and Biology, that is not the world we live in. Human nature does not work that way, and for some people simply looking in a mirror is enough to ruin their day. If a bigger bra size or a less prominent nose is what puts a wider smile on someone’s face and a spring in their step, can it be classed as wrong? Cosmetic surgery can be empowering, and the choice to get it is the freedom of the individual just as much as any other form of body modification.
If it could be proven that the only person people were going under the knife for was themselves, I would be screaming my support from the rooftops. Unfortunately the body shaming culture we live in continues to manipulate cosmetic surgery as a tool of oppression. On this basis, I reiterate my alarm at its ever-increasing prevalence and acceptance.