The “Democratization of Plastic Surgery”

The “Democratization of Plastic Surgery”
The “Democratization of Plastic Surgery”

By: Genevieve Miller

When perusing Facebook the other day, I noticed that a number of friends had posted about TIME magazine’s current cover story, “Nip, Tuck, or Else.”

It’s a story about how plastic surgery is fast-becoming as standardized and commonplace as just about anything else pertaining to one’s overall aesthetic – including getting your hair and nails done – or your teeth whitened – and it’s on the cover of TIME magazine. That in and of itself, speaks volumes, yet, I’m not in the slightest bit surprised. I’ve never understood the stigma surrounding plastic surgery, nor have I ever understood the public’s endless fascination with who has had what done and why.

Plastic surgery is like a smartphone. We have a serious love/hate relationship with it, like it or not. For me, it’s all love. Having undergone my first procedure close to two years ago, I have no regrets and I’d do it all over again if I had to. If anything, I’m happily contemplating what my next procedure will be post-baby birthing and breastfeeding when I know I will undoubtedly be horrified by the excess fat/loose skin in my lower abdomen and the excessively large and saggy boobs that are already driving me batty at 5 months pregnant.

But I digress… The article asserts that virtually everyone will soon be having something done. Perhaps it won’t be full-fledged surgery – but there will be something cosmetic performed on you, be it injections or otherwise. This doesn’t surprise me either – but the article also asserts that having work done lost all of its shame years ago. I’m not 100% sure I fully agree with this. I still think there is quite a bit of stigma associated with surgical procedures – particularly those that result in a marked change, like bigger boobs, a rounder butt or a completely different nose. Has some of the shame disappeared? Sure, but look at how we’re all just waiting with baited breath for Celebrity X to admit that he/she had this, that or the other done – and then critiquing how good or bad we think it looks.

Fortunately however, there is certainly less stigma now than ever before – and I hope that someday soon, there is none. Why? Well, too many reasons to list in this one post, but perhaps because I too used to think plastic surgery was absurd. I thought it was reserved exclusively for wealthy, vain and overly neurotic people with far too much time on their hands. This used to be half-true. When I was much younger, plastic surgery was reserved for the wealthy because it was unaffordable to the vast majority. What wasn’t true then is that only the wealthy were vain and neurotic. Ultimately, all of us are to some extent. Today however, the difference is that almost anyone can have something done if they choose to, as costs have decreased substantially and as both physicians and creditors offer financing. I’m pleased to see that it’s more accessible and that the stigma does seem to be waning – but I look forward to the day when there truly is no stigma left, and anyone who wants to improve or change their appearance in any manner isn’t judged at all, regardless of the means by which they choose to go about it. What’s wrong with changing something that you’re not fond of?

In the TIME article, Jennifer Cognard-Black, a professor of English and women, gender and sexuality at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a member of the Ms. Committee of Scholars changed her tune about her stance on cosmetic surgery and feminism. Once believing that plastic surgery isn’t feminist, now she admits that she isn’t sure. In my mind, judging someone as un-feminist because they choose plastic surgery is fairly anti-feminist itself. Talk about stigma! If, at its core, feminism is about women’s rights and equality, shouldn’t a woman who elects to pursue plastic surgery be just as readily accepted as someone who doesn’t?

Stigma aside, as plastic surgery becomes more mainstream, it is becoming more and more important for potential patients to be educated about the options available to them, as well as the importance of finding board-certified plastic surgeons who specialize in aesthetic procedures. I am horrified by the number of stories proliferating in the media on a near-weekly basis about botched procedures performed in the wrong hands, in an inappropriate setting, resulting in disfigurement and death. You would think that the ever-increasing popularity of plastic surgery would translate to less horror stories, when in fact, the opposite is true. The more mainstream something becomes, the more prone people are to believing that they can find a bargain-basement deal. When it comes to plastic surgery, you truly get what you pay for. So if you read the aforementioned TIME article, or this piece, and are one step closer to committing to your first procedure, do yourself a favor and find a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) in your area on Smart Beauty Guide!