Life in Plastic Ain’t so Fantastic

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Although once considered extreme, cosmetic surgery has become a trend in the 21st century. We’ve seen Hollywood stars, celebrities, and famous YouTubers open up about their procedures, from small lip fillers to extreme body sculpting. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), 2017 was a significant year for plastic surgery procedures– women comprising almost 90 percent of all patients.

One major reason for the rise of plastic surgery is ‘selfie culture’. In a survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), surgeons saw a 31-percent increase in plastic surgery requests that were based on a desire to look better for social media.

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After Kylie Jenner’s admitted to having lip fillers on “Keeping up With the Kardashians”, there was a “70% rise in lip filler inquiries” (Dr. Leah Totton of Dr. Leah Clinics).

“[We] cannot understate how impactful social media has been in this field. We see it every day in a variety of ways,” says Patrick Bryne, director of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “Younger people, up through middle age, increasingly perceive themselves through the lens of their own social media accounts.”

And this trend is starting earlier and earlier. Young girls are bombarded by a narrow definition of society’s “beauty”; they strive to obtain unrealistic and unattainable goals of perfection. It is definitely difficult to ignore the social imposition of these standards: media is full of makeover programs glamorizing cosmetic surgery, celebrities advise others on procedures,  and artificial reconstructions of appearances are thinly veiled as “glow ups.” Naturally, those who don’t meet these elevated standards fall into insecurity.

“We scroll through our Instagram feed to admire and envy photos of celebrities—like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian. At the moment, their beauty is society’s definition of beauty,” says senior April Yoon.

But is the desire to conform to society’s norms reason enough to go under the knife?

“There is an industry making money out of making people feel inadequate.”

It is a Greek tragedy: as if they were molded by Pygmalion, people are reshaped into perfection. Our bodies are not ever changeable and inconsistent as our minds, and this trend is a byproduct of toxic perspectives on beauty. A time-lapse video by Cut entitled “100 Years of Beauty” blurs past changing beauty standards from the past 100 years, depicting their variable nature. As our standards continuously shift, and to the extent they have in the last century, we shouldn’t trust them as a guide for our own self-worth.

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The president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons admits that “There is an industry making money out of making people who feel inadequate.” We should not forget that true beauty is nothing close to having physical symmetry. Beyond external beauty exists internal beauty. You can look and feel more beautiful because of psychological characteristics, such as charm, intelligence, empathy, or elegance.

At a certain point, it is crucial to learn how to love and accept your imperfections.

“Don’t think that having surgery will make you suddenly love yourself,” states Eugene Elliott, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. At a certain point, it is crucial to learn how to love and accept your imperfections; no matter how successful a surgery goes, those who are generally unhappy with their appearance will not feel satisfied through a single procedure.

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After receiving criticism for her belly, Lady Gaga posted a message on her Instagram promoting body positivity and confidence. “I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too… I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed,” she writes.

So instead of plastic surgery, try creating your own standard of beauty by being the best and truest form of yourself. Stop comparing yourself to what the media shows us. You don’t need to be that person. You can be you.

Author: Mi Le Jang

Mi Le Jang, currently a senior in SAS, is one of the Chief Media Editors. This is her 18th year in Singapore and her third year working for The SAS Eye. Although she was born in Singapore, she remains deeply attached to her hometown in Korea. She loves watching YouTube videos, experimenting with film and editing, traveling to new places, and spending time with her family members. She spends most of her time chilling in the library or media lab, but she can always be contacted at milejang30003@gmail.com.

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