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Plastic Surgery in Our Society
Plastic beauty -- curse or bliss?
There is much controversy regarding physical appearance in the contemporary society, as while the masses promote the belief that it one's thinking is more important than the way that he or she looks like, most people invest large amounts of money in their looks. The world has practically been bombarded by the effects of a cosmetic surgery culture during the recent years. Plastic surgery is in most cases a direct attack on society's honor, as it encourages discrimination based on appearance. Even though it only seems natural to employ a criticizing attitude when faced with the concept, it is actually difficult to determine whether or not plastic surgery is good -- the present day the social order functions in accordance with different values and people have come to achieve positive results as a consequence of artificially improving their outer shell.
While some might be inclined to consider that plastic surgery is justified in the case of a person who had just suffered an accident and needs to modify his or her looks in order to be able to reintegrate society both from a physical and from a psychological point-of-view, the general public expresses less understanding when it comes to people who want to achieve perfection and turn to cosmetic surgeons with the purpose of doing so. Moreover, this procedure is also condemned in the situation of people who experience depression as a result of growing older and think that they need it in order to be able to maintain their social status. There is nothing new about wanting to look younger, considering "Ponce de Leon's well-known search for the fountain of youth" (Bayer) and the legend regarding how "Countess Elizabeth Bathory bathed in the blood of young Virgins in an attempt to retain the beauty of her youth" (Bayer). Similarly, Plato considered that "our world is a world only of partial representations of another one the realm of Forms" (Holliday and Sanchez Taylor, 180). Nonetheless, the fact that technology has experienced significant progress in the recent years made it possible for people to actually address their physical appearance. People "no longer focus simply on living longer; we want to live better -- and look better-as we age" (Bayer).
When considering conditions in some upper class circles today, people frequenting them are encouraged in wanting to look good in order for these communities to provide them with a higher level of acceptance. Most individuals supporting a culture concentrated on attractiveness are fueled by a general motto: "the beautiful live and the ugly die" (Edmonds). In addition to this, the media world constantly uses aggressive techniques of providing people with the impression that they need to change something about themselves in order to seem more "normal" and desirable" (Bayer). Individuals are generally persuaded to believe that someone who is not beautiful has a physical defect and that he or she needs to do everything in his or her power in order to correct that respective flaw.
People who are actively engaged in reshaping their physical appearance through using cosmetic surgery seem to believe that surgeons perform supernatural activities while working on them. Plastic surgery has come to consist out of a vicious chain involving beauty and fashion magazines, entrepreneurs taking advantage of society's trends, and patrons leaving cosmetic institutions with the confidence that they are closer to looking similar to their ideal concept of beauty. Many individuals virtually walk into plastic surgery clinics and order the appearance they want as if they were in a supermarket. There is always a "catalogue" sitting in waiting rooms and patients get the chance to look through it in order to kill time as they wait for doctors to consult them. These respective "catalogues" are in most cases simple magazines presenting people with fashion icons. Most women who visited a cosmetic surgery are likely to be acquainted with them, as they influence them in being more certain that they want to change something about themselves, as they want to look like "the other woman." "Whoever she is at the time: Nadja Auermann, Cindy Crawford, Charlize Theron, or Julia Roberts -- she is the Other Woman, the yardstick for our imperfection" (Blum).
It is apparently impossible for an individual living in the twenty-first century to refrain from assessing people on account of their appearance. This is a society where "Each woman is somehow made to feel an intensely private shame for her "personal failure" (Chapkis 5). The world is a hostile place for individuals who are not physically beautiful and it is very difficult and almost impossible for them to fit in as long as they are not familiar with the "language" and the "traditions" present in modern society. People eventually come to acknowledge that their exterior is unacceptable if they are not willing to disguise themselves. Individuals feel the need to raise public awareness regarding their character, as they feel that they are not provided with sufficient attention because of their looks. They consider that they are not who they appear to be and that it is essential for them to change something about themselves if they want the others to really appreciate them.
There have been some campaigns that managed to draw a lot of attention through attempting to boost people's self-esteem as a consequence of having them realize that inner beauty is what really counts. Despite that, the majority of individuals cannot abstain from being influenced by the concept of physical beauty. The perfect appearance has come to be the result of plastic surgery and people today are obsessed with looking beautiful and having the perfect bodies. The masses support these individuals through expressing appreciation concerning their appearance and thus play an active role in promoting artificial beauty. Society thus consumes itself as people are indirectly responsible for the fact that some come to see themselves as imperfect and are obsessed with having a faultless appearance.
Society today knows no limits when it comes to expressing disapproval in regard to a person's physical appearance. Individuals are unable to think normally when they are criticized for their appearance by the very people that they feel close to. "Having a parent criticize a physical feature is a complicated emotional experience that induces both anger and guilt" (Blum 1). People who are approached by their kin about their looks feel that they are responsible for disappointing their relatives and that it is their job to do something concerning this. In contrast, the general public typically prefers to believe that conditions are different in parent-child relations and that all parents believe that there is nothing wrong with their children. Society thus enjoys lying to itself in an attempt to mask the ugly truth. There is virtually no limitation when it comes to people's attitude on the topic of beauty, as some would even want to perform plastic surgery in order to "fix" the truth if this was possible.
Children today are pressured into developing false images of beauty and they have difficulty understanding the moral aspect of life. They are provided with a lot of information about physical appearance as they grow up and come to associate success and happiness with beauty. "The adolescent girl, especially, enters the world tentatively and waits for it to say yes or no to her face and body" (Blum 2). Individuals are influenced to think that it is very important for them to act before it is too late, as expressing indifference in regard to their appearance is likely to have them lose things like money, love, and success. Life is apparently easier for people who are beautiful.
Some people are infatuated with the fact that they think that they are ugly and would stop at nothing from trying to correct their appearance. One cannot blame them, especially considering that society often categorizes individuals on account of their looks. People seriously think about surgery as they experience rejection, as they start to consider that their appearance is responsible for preventing others from accepting them. Most of these individuals think that they can "achieve emotional, psychological, and social improvements by having plastic surgery" ("Why People Want Plastic" 2). As they interact with other individuals and see their reactions, some reach the conclusion that employers (and a series of other people) can refuse to work with them if they are not beautiful enough.
Women are normally more concerned about physical appearance and while there are also men who turn to plastic surgery in order to "fix" their appearance, females largely dominate this environment. They do so for a series of reasons, but one of the principal motives fueling them is the fact that they observe how society tends to provide beautiful women with more attention. Women dominate the plastic surgery scene because "men will never be aesthetic surgery patients in significant numbers since the whole construction of being a patient or surgeon is intrinsically gendered" (Holliday and Sanchez Taylor, 185).
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