Society should dismiss prejudices against cosmetic surgery

“Plastic surgery” is a seemingly harmless phrase that has the power to generate negative images almost instantaneously. These two words take us to a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills TV set, Hugh Hefner’s living room or a Kardashian-esque reality show faster than you can say Botox. Cosmetic surgery is defined as any procedure which alters or enhances a certain body part and has been popularized in the media by what seems like an endless list of celebrities and public figures. But it is not just the trophy wives of Hollywood who are undergoing these procedures. Last year alone, regular Americans spent $12 billion on surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures. Sounds like everyone’s doing it. Yet a cosmetic surgery is often something people feel they need to hide and be ashamed of.

In a progressive country, it does not make sense that such a stigma still surrounds what has ultimately been normalized in our society. Anyone who wants to alter or enhance a body part should have the freedom to choose cosmetic surgery without fear of embarrassment. Plastic surgery needs to be categorized differently because it is no longer reserved for celebrities who decide to change certain physical aspects on a whim every other day. Cosmetic surgery is prevalent in our modern society, and instead of being shunned, people should be welcomed and encouraged to finally feel good about themselves in a way they might not have been able to before.

Think of it this way; A man or woman who buys and wears clothes flattering to his or her specific body shape and preference is not ridiculed for being “fake” by not showing the world every inch of skin. An individual might choose to use the newest makeup fad, contouring and highlighting, in which larger parts of the face are minimized with a dark shadow (usually the nose) and smaller parts are enlarged with a brighter powder (the eyes) to create the illusion of a more symmetrical face. If all changes in appearance are meant to be made a mockery, why doesn’t society treat those who use makeup and dress for their body types in the same way popular culture shuns and scorns those who have gotten a nose job, face lift or breast augmentation?

One aspect of cosmetic surgery that goes primarily unnoticed is the positive effects it can have on an individual. In a study from Ruhr University in Germany, researchers found that plastic surgery patients actually reported a happier, more fulfilled and enjoyable life post operation. Patients’ self esteems were boosted, and they showed a more content lifestyle than what they were experiencing pre-op. Researchers tested the patients before surgery and again one month, three months, six months and one year afterwards. Reports showed that those who underwent cosmetic surgery felt less anxious and overall healthier than before the surgery.

Whether or not you agree with the concept of cosmetic surgery, those who choose it as a means to improve their quality of life should be able to do so without harassment and judgment. No individual should have to hide something that makes them feel beautiful and healthy. Just like surgeries that directly impact one’s health, such as a lap band surgery, cosmetic surgery can similarly affect both the mental and physical health of an individual. Plastic surgery is a part of our society, not just a passing fad we see on television. The faster we can accept its existence in our lives and attempt to understand the reasoning behind the important choice to undergo any given procedure, the more encouraging we can be for post-op patients to gain confidence and happiness.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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