Should cosmetic surgery be encouraged to the general public? Cosmetic surgery is defined as “any medical operation which is intended to improve a person’s appearance rather than their health” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2003, p. 275). By definition, cosmetic surgery is a common practice used to modify the physical outlook of people, especially for women. This is definitely a luxury, which is not necessary to the public. Starting from the 20th century, however, cosmetic surgery is no longer a luxury but a necessity to the affluent.
Based on a survey carried out by Lloyd and Gordon (2004), the number of people received cosmetic surgery had increased for more than 40% between 1992 and 2002. A growth in affluence of the general public’s demand towards the surgery leads to another issue – abnormal behavior and belief of people, which can impose far-reaching side effects to the whole society. It is obvious that the prevalence of cosmetic surgery can evoke severe social problems. The essay examines the reasons why cosmetic surgery should not be promoted to the general public.
One major view concerning the increasing demand for cosmetic surgery in the 20th century is the misinterpretation of the standard towards beauty. According to Abraham and Zuckerman (2011), the mass media such as television shows, advertisements, magazines played an evident role in changing the public perception of “ideal “beauty standards. Due to the quick access to information, the general public can easily learn about some new ideas relating to modifying physical appearance through cosmetic surgery and the new indicators or standards to beauty. The definition in beauty can be easily altered.
With the assistance of mass media, these concepts will soon hold a special place for many people, especially women. In pursuit of attractive appearance, people can spare no effort to achieve their goals. They will then try to meet the new standard by going on diet, doing exercise, or even receiving cosmetic surgery. The public are trying so hard to keep up with the standard can be explained by the mass media the main culprit. The mass media is responsible for spreading these new ideas of beauty to the public. They will then imitate because they believe that it is the standard of beauty as well as the trend.
In a bid to catch up with the trend, cosmetic surgery, which is by far the fastest method to modify one’s outlook in a short period of time, is often the popular option chosen by the general public. However, the standard of beauty should be varied among one another, it is not necessary to follow the standard which is generally accepted. Be yourself is the key to beauty. A hypothesis suggested that people often overestimate the extent to which others are affected by mass media messages (Gunther, 2011, p. 355-372). This can explain why people are easily prone to other’s judgment towards a particular object or person.
People will then use cosmetic surgery to amend their flaw, which is not necessary and encouraged. Since then they will lost their own unique and special characteristics. They are usually the most precious indicator to show their own beauty. Therefore, cosmetic surgery did falsify the standard towards beauty. Apart from changing the concept of beauty, cosmetic surgery is playing a vital role in enhancing celebrity-oriented society. As stated in Elliott, “Popular and media cultures today are introducing a wholesale shift away from a focus on personalities to celebrity body-parts and their artificial enhancement” (2011, p.464).
It is not necessarily bad to have a celebrity-oriented society since they often deliver positive messages to the general public, for example helping the needy and encouraging healthy life style. However on the issue, cosmetic surgery, they did not play an appropriate role. Some celebrities admitted that they did receive cosmetic surgery. As the general public, especially the teenagers, usually found celebrities as their idols. They would like to imitate their idols’ behavior. According to Laurence Steinberg, (Risk Taking in Adolescence, 2007, p.
2), the transient gap between puberty, which implies teenagers toward thrill seeking and the slow maturation of the cognitive-control system makes adolescence a time of heighten possibility for risky behavior. With immature thinking, the teenagers may make decision without comprehensive consideration. Take risk-driven behavior into account, if the teenagers’ idols received cosmetic surgery, they would follow. Therefore, the general public should not belittle the influence from cosmetic surgery brought up by the celebrity and put all-out effort to prevent these influence from eroding teenagers’ mind to jeopardize the society in long run.
The rise of materialism in the society is another by-product of the increasing general acceptance to cosmetic surgery. An American study analyzed that materialism has been correspondently emerging as a substantial predictor of both acceptance of cosmetic surgery and desire for cosmetic surgery procedures (Henderson-King and Brooks, 2009, p. 133-142). Materialism states the focus and attention on physical matter in theory. When this statement applied into the society, this world would hold another meaning which is the pursuit of physical satisfaction such as appearance. It is acceptable and normal to observe such phenomenon in the society.
However it is no longer tolerable if materialism go to extreme. Purchasing brand products without considering one’s financial ability and need is a case in point. The public will then easily emphasize the importance on outlook instead of inner beauty. They will once again equip themselves to achieve perfection of beauty. According to the above study from America, since materialism and cosmetic surgery are correlated to each other, the general public may become more material-oriented due to the increasing general acceptance of cosmetic surgery. The negative effects of materialism could be far-reaching.
For example the rise of materialism affects one’s value towards the use of money. The habit of this consumption pattern, such as buying too many luxuries, can be imitated by the teenagers. They will then become a role model of their own children as well. This consumption pattern results in a vicious cycle. Cosmetic surgery should therefore be dampened in a bid to deter the rise of materialism in creating abnormal consumption behavior in the society. Some people may argue that cosmetic surgery is a panacea for improving one’s self-esteem. This is because the surgery can modify their appearance to perfection.
However, this statement is not necessarily true because appearance is not the one and only reason for causing low self-esteem of a person. As stated in Dittmar, “Body dissatisfaction, the experience of negative thoughts and esteem about one’s body, is linked to a range of physical and mental health problems, including disordered eating, obesity, body dysmorphic disorder, depression, or low self-esteem”(2009, p. 1-8). One’s self-esteem can be affected by various factors. Whenever dealing with a problem, the root and fundamental cause should be clarified before taking any actions.
This is the same in the case of cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is definitely not the key to all problems related to self-esteem. Once one relies on it to solve the problems, he or she will find it easy to get addicted to it because the positive feedbacks from friends, family members and attention from the public will grow as long as the appearance improved. Therefore, cosmetic surgery can solve problems related to personality but not all. It is not advisable to try it because one can easily get addicted to it. This essay has provided evidence that it is not advisable to promote cosmetic surgery to the general public.
The first reason is that it changes the traditional concept towards beauty. Apart from this, it has been enhancing the celebrity-oriented society. Materialism is another negative impact of cosmetic surgery. Given the information now available, it seems sensible to conclude that cosmetic surgery should not be encouraged to the general public. If this is promoted and widely applicable among the public, when walking down the street, it is no longer astonishing to find that everyone is the same, either physical appearance or personality. This scene is apparently scary, right?
So, act now and put a stop to cosmetic surgery in order to avoid this scary scene. References Krieger, L. M. & Lee, G. K. (2004). Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. : American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Abraham, A. & Zuckerman, D. (2011). Journal of Adolescent Health : Adolescents, Celebrity Worship, and Cosmetic Surgery. Washington, DC : Elsevier Inc. Gunther, A. (1991). What We Think Others Think : Cause and Consequence in the Third-Person Effect. : Sage Publications. Steinberg, L. (2007). Risk Taking in Adolescence : New Perspectives From Brain and Behavioral Science.
Philadelphia : Association for Psychological Science. Henderson-king, D. (2009). Materialism, Sociocultural Appearance Messages, and Paternal Attitudes Predict College Women’s Attitudes about Cosmetic Surgery. Allendale: Society for the Psychology of Women. Dittmar, H. (2009). Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Sussex: Guilford Press. Woodford, K. , Jackson, G. , Harley, A. , Gillard, P. & Glennon, D. (2003). Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Elliott, A. (2010). “I Want to Look Like That! ” : Cosmetic Surgery and Celebrity Culture. Adelaide: Sage Publications.