OPINION

Beauty And The Beast Within - The Ugly Truth of Cosmetic Surgery

May 07, 2008
in search of sanity

In my parents day and age, the chief worries in life were job security, having a home of your own, and good education for your children. Fast forward 30 years on and I have a neighbour whose only worry in life is those two extra lines on her face and the secretary at my workplace has just booked herself in to have a nose job in a bid to enhance her self-esteem.

According to latest figures, the total UK cosmetic surgery industry was worth an estimated £528.9m, showing a 53% rise in 2006 alone. On average, British women spend anywhere between £5,000 to £10,000 on cosmetic surgery/ non-surgical procedures yearly.

The cosmetic surgery market is being driven by an astonishing speed of technological advancements, particularly in non-surgical procedures. Combined treatments involving the use of a number of different types of non-surgical treatment — laser, injectables and peels, as well as the use of cosmeceuticals — is an increasing feature of the market. In terms of surgical procedures, facial surgery is now offered with minimally invasive techniques, encouraging a trend of "lunch-time lifts" where the woman can often be back at work shortly after a fairly major procedure!

While I fully appreciate that cosmetic surgery in certain situations, especially with victims of accidents and disfigurement, is not only desirable but also essential, it’s the "worried well" section of our population that seems to be the predominant user. In other words, there is nothing wrong with these women.

Men, too, get cosmetic surgery. In 2005 about 11% of all procedures were performed on men.

There is a mad rush to get the latest tummy tuck, the plumpest lips and the biggest bust around. It's getting difficult day by day to find a person who isn’t planning or hasn’t already had some form of cosmetic makeover done. It’s as if self-esteem was just discovered yesterday, because without cosmetic surgery you have no personality, no presence and nobody loves you.

If you are 50, then you have to look 20 and if you happen to be 20, then you have to get the perfectly shaped bottom. Your glass is always half empty.

Poor Narcissus was just kidding himself, wasn’t he? He had no idea what being beauty conscious meant, he was quite content to just stare at his spectacularly imperfect face and had no hope of finding the dashing, dynamic surgeon with the magical touch to lift him out of his ‘meaningless’ existence.

In an ideal world, people would accept themselves as they are, accept that flaws can be attractive, and growing old is natural and not necessarily bad.

I am not deluded enough to think that looks would suddenly cease to be important to people one fine day. Caring about how you look is an inherent human instinct that has to find the right way of expression. But it's not too much to expect that as intelligent, sensible human beings we’d find better ways of feeling good about ourselves rather than changing external appearances to the point of destruction.

I am not even going to go down the route of suggesting that people use these megabucks they’ve saved up for cosmetic surgery to help some of their  less-privileged earthlings, but it may just solve the purpose, you know. It may just make you feel as good if not better about yourself and there is just a chance that this feeling will last slightly longer than it takes an artificial tan to wear off.

A cosmetic surgeon in Florida has even gone on to publish <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/id/132240">a picture guide</A> to help young kids understand the exact process involved in making their mummies beautiful. For after all, as a kid aged five or six, that is your biggest concern in life – having a mummy with a jelly belly or a crooked nose would just be a catastrophe!

As an amused and at times frankly miffed bystander to this trend, I’ve struggled to explain this fixation with looks that is now part of our everyday life.

Aside from the fact that it costs the earth, it's also totally useless if it's friends or love you’re after. A cosmetic makeover will not win you friends, or happiness, only dig a huge hole in your pocket. While looking good has been important since time immemorial, the recent trend where it supercedes all else in life is decidedly unhealthy. In some households, a substantial chunk of the family income is now spent on beauty makeovers.

Alarmingly, big corporate sharks have jumped onto the bandwagon and are offering easier access to borrowing for this purpose!

The amount of column space dedicated in women’s magazines to discussion of which celebrity has cellulite and which other one has piled on a few millimeters on their abdomen, is another story altogether.

Besides, before luring a 30-something, mother of two towards the operation table, how many of these clinics actually care to fully explain the implications? The ugly truth behind these panacea procedures is that if anything goes wrong, you run the risk of being horribly disfigured and in the worst-case scenario, die from sepsis or anesthetic complications. Cases have been reported but they are few and far between to have made any significant impression on the minds of would be wannabes.

It's all just another example of how too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing. The quest for happiness and success has many different connotations. Some find happiness altering their bodies, some find it in the smile of another human being. And the endless quest for beauty does get very ugly sometimes.

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Beauty And The Beast Within - The Ugly Truth of Cosmetic Surgery

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Author: in search of sanity

 

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#1
Guido
May 7, 2008
01:19 PM

This is a symptom of a much deeper collective illness. It's nothing more than a vain attempt to cling to the ego. As you age, you should be looking more inward, not outward at the physical realm.

On the bright side, I suppose if you're concerned about wrinkles (as pathetic as that is) at least it's better than worrying about your next meal.

Ciao, Guido

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