Punch the plastic
Aesthetics are taking centre stage, but do they live up to their expectations?
By Khushvita Singh
Photo credit to sergeitokmakov on Pixabay
Bold contours and filtered photos plot the digital landscape. With both cosmetic plastic surgery and non-surgical procedures booming, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons says their doctors were reporting up to 70% increases in requests for virtual consultations during lockdown. Seeing an article listing the range of cosmetic procedures celebrities had gotten really made me wonder why we are so concerned with filling ourselves with plastic whilst we desperately try to stop littering our planet with plastic?
In 2015, researchers from Glasgow University examined 467 teenagers about their night-time social media use. Analysis showed that social media use was related to poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, higher anxiety and depression.
The popularity of social media and photo editing has had a significant impact on the field of cosmetic surgery. In 2017, a survey of Facial Plastic surgeons found that 55 percent of surgeons reported seeing patients who requested to improve their appearance in selfies. This trend has led to the creation of a new term called “Snapchat Dysphormia,” which refers to the psychological phenomena of patients bringing filtered selfies to their surgeons to illustrate the desired surgical changes they want to achieve.
A substantial body of research has documented the influence of traditional media on young women’s consideration of cosmetic surgery. A particular study aimed to examine whether exposure to images depicting facial cosmetic enhancements increases the desire for cosmetic surgery among young women. 118 women aged 18-29 years, indicated their social media use. The results showed that viewing images of females who have undergone cosmetic enhancements, strongly affected young women’s desire for cosmetic surgery.
The visual nature of such applications naturally leads users to focus on physical appearance. The sociocultural theory suggests that people learn beauty standards within the social and cultural context. This ultimately may lead to people judging their own appearance based on the beauty standards defined by society and currently, the sociocultural standards throughout much of the world are established online. One of the most obvious dangers of having social media as the primary factor for establishing cultural standards is the potential creation of unrealistic norms and perceptual distortions. Joan Rivers once quipped;
“I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die, they’ll donate my body to Tupperware.”
But, are people truly happy with their cosmetic procedures? Individuals who undergo cosmetic surgery expect to look better, but they also want to feel happier and more confident
Many argue that cosmetic surgery is oppressive. I think it is foolish. We are all beautiful. It’s okay if our facial structure isn’t the most trendy. It is because we are rare that we are so unlike each other. Yet we are trying to fit into moulds like one another, seeking the approval of friends and enemies alike. Experts agree that plastic surgery is most likely to stay as it’s unlikely that our demands for plastic surgery will decrease. Nonetheless, I believe that we should stop dumping plastic in us, just like we are trying to stop dumping plastic in our oceans.