Plastic surgery, and where it fits in on our move towards acceptance

By Hanna Kim

“Your face isn’t everything, but it is certainly important.”

“Only a good face can complete fashion.”

I walk past poster after poster implying similar mottos without a second thought. On the signs, the men have high nose bridges and strong jawlines and the women have doe-like eyes and a waist that seems tightened by an invisible belt. But the advertising companies have made a mistake: these posters have no effect whatsoever on my self-esteem, and I have no desire to surgically be reborn as the child of Ken and Barbie.

Our media has done an excellent job of portraying plastic surgery as a scandalous process; the cold, hard operating table and the Sharpie markings on various areas of our body are enough to prompt any person to a disgusted reaction. But if we have developed a stigma against cosmetic procedures, how is it that we still glorify the hourglass figures, the double eyelids, and the “ideal” look? Instead of focusing our attention on these “scare tactics,” we need to figure out a more effective way to discourage the subconscious bias towards these traditionally desirable features.

The recent movements toward acceptance and equal treatment are admirable, but, quite honestly, they aren’t enough. The entertainment industry, especially, is notorious for basing their judgements on looks. For example, most resumes require applicants to include a picture alongside physical statistics. Though employers outside the entertainment industry may not make the conscious decision to discriminate based on an applicant’s appearance, it happens nevertheless.

Forbes released a compilation of surveys proving that promotions and employment opportunities were given more often to women who were under the category of “attractive.” In research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, job interviewees recalled more information from applicants who lacked facial marks. According to the leading researcher of this study, employers were distracted by a person’s features if there were any noticeable “flaws.” In this split second of distraction, the job interviewer might miss the applicant’s work experiences or internships, essential facts that might distinguish the person for the job.  

Despite this obvious evidence of how appearance-centered our society is, we focus on bashing plastic surgery practices. Celebrities have avoided admitting to their cosmetic procedures until they could not deny the rumors anymore. Kylie Jenner, a celebrity popularized by the reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” denied her lip enlargement surgery until a few years after the rumor began. Ever since, numerous articles have attacked her practices, calling her an “addict” and “artificial.”

There are many reasons why the Kardashian family should be criticized, but their cosmetic habits should not be one of them.

It’s easy to blame something as tangible as a surgical procedure for the appearance-based society we live in today. But the mindset that these people have been trained to adopt is the result of societal pressure, and the true blame lies in the flaws of our overall society. So we need to come to accept people’s capabilities over their looks, not just judge those who attempt to alter theirs.

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