As of recent, I’ve been marveling at the number of enhanced bodies I’m seeing and how normal it’s becoming. I remember when plastic surgery was a taboo and seemed to be something only the rich and famous did. Nowadays, it’s become a lot more mainstream and I’m not sure whether I think hat’s a good or bad thing. I know that everyone is living their best life and not going back and forth with us ninjas, however, are all of these people going under the knife truly happy or are they just looking for a quick fix for low self-esteem?
You may have clicked on this article because you’re either struggling with low-self esteem or thinking about going under the knife to fix something that maybe isn’t even broken. Before we get into why you’re getting surgery and whether or not it will fix low self-esteem, let’s look at some research on both surgery and self-image among women.
What is Research Saying About Plastic Surgery and Self Image?
Being the curious Joanne that I am, I decided to see what research says about both plastic surgery and self-image. As I grow I’ve realized that everyone has an opinion, however, to have one that is well-informed you should see what opinions are already out there as well as what research there is. So, I found some interesting statistics about plastic surgery to begin with.
Plastic Surgery Statistics
So as a hood investigator, first things first, I wanted to know how many people had gotten plastic surgery as of recent. Research from the American Association of Plastic Surgery say that in 2018, 17.7 million people did which reflects a 2% increase from 2017. Another interesting statistic that I came across is that 92% of all cosmetic procedures that took place were by women while men only attributed for a mere 8%. For me, this isn’t surprising as women seem to be on the receiving end when it comes to body shaming and media pressure.
What was even more interesting is that the total number of cosmetic surgeries increased with age. For women between the ages of 20-29, they had 831,000 total cosmetic procedures, while those in the 30-39 age bracket shot up to 2.9 million. it doesn’t stop there. 40-54-year-olds had a shocking 7.8 million total cosmetic procedures. It is no surprise that the older generation feel like they have to do cosmetic surgery considering society treats aging like it’s an incurable disease. Last but not least, 16.5 billion was spent on cosmetic procedure sin 2018 which means I need to have a plastic surgeon as a bestie. Here are the top 5 Procedures for 2018;
- Breast augmentation (313,000)
- Liposuction (258,000)
- Nose Reshaping (213, 000)
- Eyelid surgery (206,000)
- Tummy Tuck (130,000)
What’s even crazier is the spike in the number of plastic surgery procedures that have taken place over the last couple of years. It makes you wonder why an influx of people are going under the knife and why the pressure to be picture perfect is becoming record-breaking.
Research has also found that some reasons people pursue plastic surgery include;
- body dissatisfaction
- teasing about body parts
- media influence
- not being happy with physical appearance
Self- Image Research
A report commissioned by Dove that did research into self-esteem, body image, and body confidence discovered women all over the world hate their bodies and struggle with self-image. I’m sure you likely saw imaged and videos from the campaign floating around with women of all shapes and sizes talking about self-image and what not. Below you’ll see some of the statistics that the report found.
• Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful
• 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful
• 80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful, but do not see their own beauty
• More than half of women globally (54%) agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic
In conclusion, the report found that beauty-related pressure increases whilst body confidence decreases as girls and women grow older – stopping young girls from seeing their real beauty. Having said that, it seems the pressure from the media, individuals and those around them triggers low self-esteem for girls and women.
Questions You Should Ask Before Getting Surgery
Before getting surgery, however, I think you should ask yourself a few of these three questions and answer honestly.
1.) What Is Wrong With My Body and Why?
For someone to make the decision to go out and get plastic surgery, it often means that they feel that something is wrong with their body. If you happen to share these sentiments, ask yourself what you feel is wrong with your body and why. For many years, I looked in the mirror and thought my nose was way too big and it made me ugly. To add insult to injury, my skin was too dark and my butt was so flat, I had to rethink whether or not I was a black African girl. I even used to stuff clothes inside of my jeans to make my butt look bigger. I cried, I fought with myself, I looked for validation in men, I fed off of the praise of others, but still, at the end of the day, I was broken by the disapproval of many. I found it so hard to accept that I wasn’t a mainstream beauty and might never be.
It took ten years or more for me to realize that everyone is made differently and this is never something to be ashamed of. I realized that nothing was wrong with my nose and nothing was wrong with my body and it was okay if my kind of beautiful wasn’t portrayed in the media. It is my job to define and accept my unique beauty, not my job to meet the standards of the world’s definition of beauty. What I’m saying is, if you think something is wrong with the way you look because it isn’t society’s idea of beauty, then you may need to adopt a positive self -image, not get surgery. The real issue is in how you view and value yourself. That can often be fixed with a little more kindness, a little less scrutiny, and a lot more self-acceptance.
2.) Is the Problem With My body or my Perception?
As mentioned above, another question you should ask is whether the problem is with your body or your perception. Whether we like it or not, our perception and ideas of beauty are greatly influenced by what other people think. I thought that I wasn’t attractive and wasn’t beautiful because other people told me so. They said I needed to be a few shades lighter and that my nose was too big and because their approval mattered, I believed them and struggled with low self-esteem.
So, in light of this, ask yourself whether you don’t like your image because other people don’t like it or because it doesn’t look like the people that you admire. Are you only getting surgery so that you can feel better about yourself and be liked by others? If so, why not change those negative perceptions about yourself inwardly before you attempt to do so outwardly?
3.) How Will This Positively Impact My Life?
If you do feel you need surgery, think about how it will affect your life. Do you think it will make you feel more accepted, less vulnerable or more liked? Or will it only make you more discontent, encourage low-self esteem and elucidate other imperfections?
Think about what your purpose is in life and how altering your image will help you achieve it. For me, I found the less I focused on how I looked and the more I focused on who I was, the more beautiful and attractive I felt. This quote by Henry Miller resonates with how I feel;
“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music — the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”
The issue I have with plastic surgery is the message that it sends to the coming generations of young women. It says that if you don’t like the way you look physically change it. But what happened to reasoning with yourself before making impulsive and life-changing decisions?
When plastic surgery is the first resort to fix the issue of self-esteem, it tells younger women that the way they are isn’t okay because it isn’t society’s standard of beautiful. I also feel that it further objectifies women and reiterates the underlining message that a woman being beautiful and attractive is of more value than her being smart and successful; however success is defined.
For the sake of a balanced discussion, let me put out there that I am not anti-surgery because I would be a hypocrite to say I am. What I am saying in essence, is that before you go changing everything about yourself that you don’t physically like, ask yourself hard questions first. Think about what you’d tell your daughter, niece, or younger self if they said that they felt they were too skinny, their butt wasn’t big enough or their tits were too small. Would you tell them to go and get surgery to fix it or to focus less on what the world says they should look like and more on who they are?
I feel like maybe if women focused more on snatching the mind and spirit instead of the waist, they’d be a lot less inclined to get surgery and maybe they’d start setting their own standard of beauty. As Jada Pinkett-Smith rightly said the other day, self-love is a process and it isn’t something that happens overnight. You can’t escape the ugliness of it, the hard work, the painful realities, and the transformation that has to take place in your mind so that you learn to love yourself. Plastic surgery may fix your outer appearance, but it is only a temporary fix if the real issue is your inability to love who you are.