Why are Women Ashamed of Plastic Surgery?

While we were discussing the challenges faced by people going through midlife (ages 35-65) in class, Dr. Kirasic said something that I found to be very interesting. She stated how we shouldn’t be turning to plastic surgery to “fix” physical problems that occur with aging, but how we should embrace them. I found this to be an interesting statement when it is almost general knowledge that more people are having some kind of cosmetic procedure done now, more than ever, and wanted to explore why many women get procedures done done. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to focus on the procedure that are most commonly used to “prevent” aging, such as fillers, botox, etc. and stay away from the more complicated procedures that change a person’s appearance (tummy tucks, etc).

According the the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS,) the two most common minimally invasive cosmetic procedures are Botulinum toxin (Botox,) followed by soft tissue/dermal fillers. Botox is used to help prevent or lessen the appearance of wrinkles and frown lines by weakening certain muscles. Botox typically lasts around three to four months and costs on average $371, which I believe makes it a fairly costly procedure if regularly done. Shown below is an before and after picture of a woman who has undergone Botox. b-a-4

Dermal fillers are used add fullness and “volume” to the face that is often lost as people age. There are many types of dermal fillers, but the average cost is about $600 and lasts for 6-24 months depending on the absorption rate of the product, which again I believe to be fairly expensive if it is done regularly. Shown below, is a before an after picture of a woman who has had dermal fillers done. cheek_filler_under_eye_filler_upper_eyelid_treatment_01


I found an interesting article (linked in references) that states how women in power are so often criticized in general, but are also scrutinized about their appearance, something that rarely happens to their male counterparts. The article states “Attacking women’s appearance serves a dual purpose: the attack itself, and the implication that a woman is valuable for her looks more than her brains.” I find this to be so very true, since men in power are never placed by the same physical standards that women in power are. But it also makes no sense to me since appearances have very little to do with someone’s capabilities, knowledge, or experience. An example of this is Donald Trump, a man who could potentially be the President by this time next week, who has a history of making remarks about women who have disagreed with him, as a quick google search shows. When comments like these are made, it makes it no surprise to me that women are expected to look as “nice” as they possibly can so that there is one less thing for them to be scrutinized about.

As a society that focuses on appearance, how you look plays a huge part in how others will treat you, as unfortunate as it is. However, in an article written by Debora Spar, president of Barnard College, she brought up an issue that I found very interesting, how plastic surgery can compete with the concept of feminism. She describes how women have fought for many rights over the past century and are proud of the progress they have made, but so few talk about what cosmetic procedures they have done or are embarrassed by it. I believe that she has a great point, if we live in an era where women are more empowered than they have been in the past, why are they so afraid to discuss what they have had done.

If we have made so much progress for women over the past one hundred years, why are we still so ashamed if we decide to get a little Botox? A majority of women who are in the public eye, no matter what there field is, has had some kind of procedure done, but they almost never admit it.

Again, while I personally do not think that I will ever undergo a cosmetic procedure, if I ever do change my mind, I don’t want to feel embarrassed or afraid to admit what I have had done. And while it is easy to make statements like this, I feel that my viewpoint would be very different I was in a prominent position that was often in the public eye. In a society that judges primarily by appearance, if you don’t look up to “standards” you may be criticized no matter what qualifications, education, or experience you have, simply because women are held to a different standard than men, particularly when they are in a position of power or in the public eye. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that this will change anytime soon, but I would encouraged if I could see more and more prominent woman  that have chosen to undergo procedures admit to it. I believe the more it is talked about the less we will have to be embarrassed about whatever our choice is as we age.









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