Plastic Surgery is a modern phenomenon with major implications. Though the art of altering ones body to be more socially accepted is something that has been going on since ancient times, only recently has the fad become truly medical and gained the ability to change almost any part of the outer body.
There are major differences between reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery. reconstructive surgery is, according to Dr. Mary Powers, a plastic surgeon in Los Angeles, surgery that is necessary for an individual to be able to function normally, whether it be physically or socially. As much as we try to hide it, a child born without an ear definitely cannot function normally in society, especially in the mean world of grade school. Dr. Powers talked about a child that was born with only half a nose, and how they used part of the forehead to rebuild the nose so that the child could have happy life. Aesthetic Surgery, though, is completely voluntary and unnecessary for normal human functioning. These are surgeries like Liposuction, Breast Augmentation, Tummy tucks, and more, which help the person look better and increase his/her self esteem. Dr. Powers talked about how many Asian girls. Including herself, got eyelid surgery, which was for purely aesthetic reasons.
So why do people opt to get Plastic Surgery? Is it because they have low self esteem, crave attention, or are forced to by a image-obsessed society? I believe that there is a definite relationship between aesthetic plastic surgery and low self esteem. According to Cynthia Figueroa, ” Self-esteem refers to the degree to which people are satisfied or dissatisfied with themselves.” If people are satisfied with themselves and their bodies, they would have no need to resort to aesthetic plastic surgery. It would not make any sense. I believe that attention may be another element to this that neither article really gave credence too. Robert Scheer, in his article, talked about how he was approached by a woman in his class that told him that in her case “breast augmentation had left her a happier person…[because] men noticed her”.
In any case low self esteem likely is a common denominator between the multitudes of women and men who seek plastic surgery in ever increasing numbers every year. According to Figueroa, ” Several studies report associations between negatively perceived body image changes and lowered self-esteem. These negative body images lead to people who want plastic surgery to magically fix the problems that they perceive to have. Another factor may be the increasing Westernization of the world. Many cultures in the world do not value the Barbie figured women, rather the larger and fuller female is considered more attractive. As Mr. Scheer wrote in his article “Doctors [augmented the breasts of] Asian women eager to appeal to the Western eye.”. We can assume that before Western influence that Japanese women had not wanted to appeal to the western eye, and therefore had not wanted to augment their breasts. As more and more parts of the world are integrated into the the world of mass media and subjected to Hollywood and other glamorous forms of media, this will only increase.
The real problems lies in the society that has been so brainwashed by the media and society to believe that technology is the solution to all problems. We can fix any part of our body that we want to, with the magic of plastic surgery. The media continues to feed us this with shows like “Extreme Makeover”, which, even though it makes a strong effort to not sensationalize plastic surgery, still shows us the magic of the changes that can be done to ordinary people. Dr. Powers did tell us that some of her patients referred to the show as to why they wanted cosmetic surgery, so it has obviously had some effect. Likewise, it seems that human views on beauty only seem to get more unrealistic year by year. Do you think that the crowded weight room at the Lyon Center consist of men who want to be healthy or look better? From my experiences, it is definitely the latter. Unfortunately, except for the very blessed in genes, many of the standards are just unattainable.
As plastic surgery inevitably becomes better, more efficient, and cheaper it will be interesting to see if this will be accompanied by a rise in its usage. What if a pill is developed that can make you pretty? Science continues to make strives in anti-aging technologies, we are now able to do miracles with the body that were unthinkable only 50 years ago. What will the face of cosmetic surgery look like in another 50 years? Will it also be unthinkable to us today? Only time will tell.