Why We Shame Women for Plastic Surgery (And Why It’s Important We Stop)
We have all seen it happen: a famous face reveals a more youthful look on the red carpet or a young starlet shows off new, voluptuous curves in a magazine spread, and the world goes crazy. People get heated when they hear of celebrities like Renee Zellweger, Uma Thurman, and Meg Ryan changing their looks with surgery. Though both the popularity of cosmetic surgery and also social acceptance of it has grown dramatically in the past decade, plastic surgery shaming continues to be a very real thing.
Elle Magazine’s Elissa Strauss recently addressed the subject in a thought-provoking, positive manner, and we loved what she had to say.
Plastic surgery: it’s personal
Last year, almost 2 million cosmetic surgery procedures were performed in the United States—and each person undergoing those procedures had their own unique reasons for doing so. Whether it’s a flaw that has bothered someone since childhood or unwelcome changes caused by the natural progression of time, these patients do have at least one thing in common: the desire to change or improve something that bothered them, which is a decision only they could make for themselves.
Society has a fixation on the why of plastic surgery, with people seeming to forget it is simply about feeling better about oneself. Plastic surgery stereotypes run rampant, leaving many people believing that only those who are vain or superficial choose to “get work done”—and women are most often the targets of this type of thinking. In truth, the typical cosmetic surgery patient is not a rich and famous celebrity, but rather your next door neighbor: normal men and women hoping to get through life feeling comfortable and confident.
When you shame a woman (or anyone) for making a decision about her own body, you are, essentially, telling her that her thoughts, emotions, and opinions about herself are invalid or superficial. In addition to supporting those who choose plastic surgery to help a physical condition (such as reducing back pain with breast reduction), we also need to stop the accusations of vanity for those who simply want to improve something that makes them unhappy (for instance, improving breast shape and size with breast augmentation).
Elissa Strauss says it best as the close of her article:
“In addition to expanding beauty ideals and tolerance, we also need to fight the pernicious—not to mention very sexist—idea that our inner selves and our outer selves are at odds with one another. The way we talk about women who get plastic surgery is based on the assumption that caring about our looks and caring about our souls is a zero sum game. It’s a logic that suggests that external fakeness is a symptom of internal fakeness, and all we can do when we see a woman who has gone the surgery route is shake our heads in fear and repulsion (and just a smidge of self-righteousness). But why? I know it is passé to say women can have it all. But, in this one way, I believe we really can. We are more than capable of searching for internal truths with lipstick on, being feminists with face lifts, or choosing something a little fake while also being very real.”
To read the full article about stopping plastic surgery shaming, click here.