For a long time running, modern society labeled cosmetic surgery as taboo. People have made comedies surrounding the topic to capitalize off of the taboo-aesthetic the entire cosmetic industry has, from patient to doctor. Take for example the TV shows Nip/Tuck and Botched.
Nip/Tuck makes plastic surgeons out to be highly dysfunctional people, while giving the patients a less critical reputation. This show plays off the one doctor who is a family-man with a broken home life and the other doctor who is a highly unethical playboy.
Botched makes patients out to be dysfunctional sometimes, while the doctors are reliable and, sometimes, hilarious. The two renowned plastic surgeons from California work on each botched plastic/cosmetic surgery their patients bring to them. These doctors fix the mistakes of complications resulting from these botched surgeries and the viewers are influenced to think that either (1) the patients are absolutely nuts, such like this woman who wanted, quote, “basketball boobs,” or (2) the patients are deserving of the plastic surgery to fix something that is crippling their confidence, being seen as the good guys that you should feel sorry for.
1) Here is the “basketball boobs,” patient.
Pictured: This is a real-life cosplay actress who thought
her breasts needed to be bigger.
Source: Josie Griffiths at The Sun
2) Here is the “noble patient” worthy of a confidence boost.
Pictured: This is a real-life patient who wanted a simple nose job.
Source: Jess Cohen of E! News
A Push for Sameness
You see on social media today a very high standard of beauty. You constantly see makeup tutorials, showing women how to get that perfect chiseled jawline look, a contoured and highlighted face in all the right places, and a hairstyle that is voluminous and perfectly “natural” looking. What’s really pushing people over the line between the use of makeup and cosmetic surgery is the relatively new phenomenons of cyberbullying and online body shaming. People ruthlessly criticize people who, according to their own personal standards, are not up to snuff. They hide behind their screens and say things they wouldn’t dream of saying directly to someone’s face. This culture breeds insecurity, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. With cosmetic surgeries now being easier than ever to alter your physical state, it’s becoming normal, for example, to get extremely brief nose or lip injections, which can easily be reversed, with little to no recovery time at a reasonable price. “Why not just try it? It’s harmless,” social media users think.
With the incalculable, daily influx of selfies to social media profiles, which is now deeply entrenched in social media culture, comes people who hand self-criticism to themselves on a silver platter. People take multiple pictures in a row to get the camera angle that is just right enough to make them look flawless. Then, there are easily-applied filters that can enhance the image. People end up feeling shameful, because they do not actually look like their pictures; however, they want social acceptance so badly, even subconsciously, that they are willing to alter things just a smidge to give them the mass appeal they crave.
A Push for Uniqueness
Then, there is the culture that encourages enhancing unique features that make them stand out from the rest. A huge reason why this is exploding on social media now is because of the modern “selfie.” Patients no longer point to magazines of paparazzi shots as their point of reference for their cosmetic goals. No. Patients now point to pictures of themselves when they think they look their best, as well as pictures of their friends on social media who have the look they want.
Even though it might seem like these cultures could work against each other, they are actually working alongside of each other. These paradoxical cultures on social media, according to experts in the field, are diversifying and intensifying the demand for cosmetic surgery. This is changing the cosmetic surgery game tremendously and requiring doctors to be hyper specific in their bodily design aesthetic on each individual patient.