The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

America’s obsession with unattainable beauty

David Hume said beauty is based on perception, while Aristotle told the masses it’s what gets your foot in the door. Advertisements tell us it’s a key factor in success, and mothers believe it’s the manifestation of their child.

But according to Vivian Miller, who holds a doctorate in plastic surgery, close to 13 million cosmetic procedures were performed this year in the U.S. alone. This staggering number shows a 155 percent increase over the past decade. Clearly, the idea of beauty no longer exists. Instead, it has been sliced and diced into an unattainable state of perfection and every flaw has been turned into another reason for change.

The issue with plastic surgery can be sliced by two sides of the scalpel. The first grants an opportunity for patients to improve themselves beyond their own means. It’s a chance to boost confidence and a chance for solace in a world of disfigurement.

In opposition, these procedures of change represent a shallow cultural trend that illuminates manipulated standards of perfection. The quest to be free of flaws downplays the importance of individuality and destroys the efforts of a wholesome womb.

The list of procedures extends far beyond tummy tucks and breast implants. Cosmetic enhancement can be shaped around chemical face peels, laser hair removal, rhinoplasties and other minute or significant alterations. According to WebMD, the most popular procedures in 2012 were liposuction and eyelid surgery.

Just like the vast array of temporal improvements, the psychological reasons behind wanting augmentation vary from patient to patient. According to the National Institute of Health, “People generally seek cosmetic interventions to feel better about themselves.” This means after the skin is ripped open and imperfections removed, a more positive sense of self emerges along with a new caliber of social confidence.

In a best case scenario, receiving plastic surgery could help reduce the distress of being physically different from natural competitors. By limiting the tension of being different, the recipient is able to transcend the worries of a physical prison and immerse themselves in a refined state of development.

“People who get it feel better about themselves, doctors feel happy when they get paid. It’s a silly, misguided custom that says a lot about our society,” said DePaul senior Jonathan Lidsky.

A saline breast implants runs at about $4,500, and a rhinoplasty is double that. Some people undergo multiple procedures a year and when dissatisfaction is the only result, a problem consequently arises.

Unless the surgery was totally botched, responding poorly to a cosmetic procedure is considered a psychiatric problem known as body dysmorphic disorder. People engage in this negative pattern of thinking and often obsess for hours at a time about a minuscule defect that has no real impact on their lives. This could be everything from several unsightly freckles to an invisible roll of fat.

The National Institute of Health said people like that, “Check their appearance repeatedly, pick their skin and try to conceal their defect through use of concealing clothing, wigs, makeup, hats and so on.” People who represent this behavior are categorized with mismatched levels of serotonin and underlying mood or personality disorders. Those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder have even been known to lash out towards their surgeons.

In order to avoid the disheartening effects of a negative surgical experience, the individual’s attitude should be evaluated. Diller urges other plastic surgeons to assess the patient’s history prior to signing a dotted line. In doing so, the doctor will be able to identity how the procedure will help or hinder them in physical and emotional realms. Those dealing with psychotropic medications, eating disorders or substance abuse or drug addictions are often ruled out automatically based on a preliminary screening.

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