Beauty is known to us as something that cannot be awarded a clear definition. And yet, women all over the world feel immense pressure to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. People are inclined to have desire for self improvement, with societal pressures and media influence, women can easily feel insecure about their natural features. Beautiful women and ideal bodies are thrown at us in various mediums from magazines, television, advertisements, and the like.
To feel attractive is an important part of self esteem that women across the globe take very seriously. While a certain standard of beauty has always been a powerful measure of a woman’s worth in society, the ability to achieve it has become more accessible through the normalization and availability of surgical methods. Plastic surgery, also known as cosmetic surgery, has a plethora of purposes when altering a human body. Some forms of plastic surgery involve victims who have become disfigured in an accident, while others simply want their nose to be shaped differently.
Medical technology and advancement in the cosmetic surgery field has opened up doors for almost any augmentation someone may wish to have on their body. It seems easy for people to find flaws in their physical appearance when one looks at the variety of surgeries available and the convenience of these procedures. People were not always able to have their flaws surgically transformed. It is strange in today’s society to consider a time when people lived with the natural features they were born with, and did not have much room to question their appearance.
Money has been poured into advancing medical technology, and cosmetic surgery has advanced rapidly since it became prevalent. People want the best of the best when it comes to anything medical, this does not fall short of including plastic surgery. In order to determine how this shift towards reliance on cosmetic augmentation came about, and how it reflects current values and events of a society, it is important to consider statistics. Granted, statistics do not offer much specifically when it comes to people’s feelings.
However, numbers can reflect a movement and portray the reasoning behind such a change of direction toward altering one’s appearance. A study has predicted that by the year 2012, over 55 million plastic surgeries will have been performed in the United States. This statistic reflects that since 2005, cosmetic surgery in our country will have quadrupled (1). These are startling numbers considering that the very first breast augmentation was unveiled in 1962, which in reality is not very long ago at all (2).
It does not take an observant person to walk into a supermarket where checkout lines are littered with magazine covers that show “Before and After” photos of celebrities who have undergone cosmetic surgeries. People from Lindsay Lohan, Heidi Montag, to Megan Fox have had many surgical augmentations of their physical features, most of which were unnecessary and deemed as poor decisions. This goes to show that not only has societal pressure affected common people, but even those who are publicly considered beautiful still call upon plastic surgeons to change their bodies.
It is frightening to see young women have body altering surgeries when they are simply unnecessary. This casual attitude toward surgical alterations reflects the convenience and growing popularity of plastic surgeries today. Plastic surgery today is generally considered very safe, and relatively easy. Recovery times for cosmetic procedures typically do not inhibit one’s lifestyle. It is easy to find plastic surgeons who are reputable and have a lot of experience.
Because of technological advancements in the medical field, there is much lower risk when undergoing surgical augmentation. Modern techniques make better outcomes of cosmetic surgeries much more common, as well as easier to achieve. While surgeries are on the whole convenient and successful, there is not only a prevalence of individuals who have gotten cosmetic surgery, but there is a prevalence also of the variety of surgeries available. There are the obvious ones such as breast augmentation, liposuction, and botox treatments.
There are also cosmetic surgeries to alter genitalia, stomach fat, eyelids, and many more surgical options that make it conceivable to any individual that it is possible to alter just about any physical feature of their body. If plastic surgery had not become so convenient and available, the wide variety of available procedures would more than likely not exist. Judging by this, pop culture and media have an unyielding force of influence over media consumers, and naturally impressionable youth.
The pressure to look a certain way has contributed to the availability of surgeries so that ideally, any flaw can be fixed. There is a lot to be said, and to be analyzed when it comes to the effects of the media on people. Most importantly, younger girls are the most impressionable, and through their stages of development feel extreme pressure to look mature, beautiful, and sexy. When their male peers are judging adolescent girls using adult comparisons and more importantly, celebrity comparisons, a teenage girl’s self esteem can take a toll.
When they are not pleased with a feature of their natural body, there is the looming process of getting a surgery to change it. They have watched their celebrity idols undergo such procedures, and even see older women do the same when trying to look younger. The prime age where women are their most attractive seems to be what younger women and older women are both striving for with endless self comparisons. There is little information offered on the exact role of the media because there is not really a way to measure this exactly.
However, people look up to others who they admire and may strive to have similar features or improve their appearance by standards that are somewhat undefined as it stands. Technology has allowed media and societal pressure to enhance itself in the lives of women, while technology has also improved and expanded cosmetic surgery capabilities. These two pressing factors have made for a societal shift where altering one’s natural appearance is a common occurrence and widely accepted as a way to become more attractive.
It is difficult to determine whether this reflects a shallowness of society where values are wrongly placed, or if it has more to do with the superficiality of human nature and desire for perfection. With the rapid improvement of plastic surgery over the decades, and its growing prevalence, it is not out of the realm to wonder how it will continue to grow and be modified. How this will affect the future of beauty and the reliance on surgical augmentation cannot be determined, but is a trend to watch for as we progress into the future of beauty ideals and where worth is placed in terms of physical appearance.