FRIDAY THOUGHTS: WHAT I REALLY THINK ABOUT COSMETIC SURGERY

Friday, 13 July 2018








So, two things have happened these past couple of weeks that have prompted me to write a 'Friday Thoughts' post about something I have been wanting to talk about for quite a while now - cosmetic surgery. 

It can often be quite hard to openly discuss this topic, particularly in the fashion and beauty world, where more and more people are having cosmetic procedures, without coming across as self-righteous or judgemental - 'oh, I haven't had anything done, I'm all natural, so I'm the best role model' blah blah blah... 

But I think there's a frank discussion that really needs to be had. Are those with extensive surgeries good role models for young, impressionable, and insecure girls? Can you be anti-cosmetic surgery and a feminist? Can you be pro-surgery and have had procedures done, but also body positive and preach self-acceptance? What do we even mean by 'feminist' and 'body positive' and what do these movements mean and intend to do for women today?

There are so many questions here and I'm not really here to attempt to answer even a handful of them. Instead I wanted to reflect a little bit on the rise in people getting surgery, particularly in the blogging world, and why I think that is.



As I say, 2 incidents prompted this post. The first was an episode of Love Island. I know, I know, it's all social media is talking about right now! But as light hearted and trashy a show as it is, it's been raising some rather more serious, important questions - such as female sexuality, modern dating, and colourism in dating. 
What stuck in my mind, however, is the plastic surgery debate. If you're familiar with the show, do you all recall the first casa amour episode, where the 6 new boys arrived in the villa? They each had to state who they found most attractive out of the girls in the villa, and every single one of them placed Megan, a girl who is estimated to have had £40,000 worth of cosmetic surgery (the before and after pictures really are quite alarming), in their 'Top 3' most attractive girls. Samira, who, as far as we know, is completely natural and it is worth noting, black, didn't make it into a single boy's top 3 category, when every other girl did. Later that episode, we saw Samira finally break down after 4 weeks of no interest from any of the guys. Tearfully, she spoke about how she wished she looked like Megan, how she didn't understand why any of the boys liked her, and I was immediately struck by the extent to which this level of this rejection was affecting her self esteem. Here, we had a naturally beautiful girl, who was well liked by the boys and girls of the villa, and therefore clearly had a lovely personality, thinking she was not enough. 

There are, of course, two strands to this. Firstly, there is the issue of race, something I do not wish to get into in this post - we'll be here for hours! But it definitely interlinks with the surgery thing. Megan has had lip injections, bum implants and a breast enhancement - all surgeries to change her body and, incidentally, make her more in line with the features a black woman would naturally have. Yet, on that black woman, they are somehow not lauded to the same extent. How does that work out? 

This isn't a post aiming to have a pop at Megan. I completely respect her right to do what she likes with her own body. In all honesty I thought it was bad that social media was using her surgery against her, suggesting that none of the boys would have fancied her natural, which, to a degree, further highlights the problem and shows why she very likely felt like she had to have surgery - because society didn't see her as fitting the beauty archetype. I find it incredibly sad that she has changed herself to such an extent anyway, seeing as it hardly seems logical that someone completely happy in themselves would change themselves beyond recognition. But to be brutally honest, I was struck by just how much the boys lauded a body and features that simply isn't real. Boys often chat about how they want a 'naturally pretty girl' who wears 'little makeup', but how can that be so when people like Megan are seen as the beauty ideal? What does that mean for the rest of us? 

The second was Kylie Jenner deciding to dissolve her lip fillers. We're all aware of the Kylie lip saga, and I'm sure Kylie's surgeries had a direct correlation with the boom in the sale of juvaderm. It was almost as if, just like that, a few injections, some botox and some face structural alteration, and suddenly Kylie had gone from 'the ugliest Kardashian/Jenner' to 'beautiful'. I always found this narrative particularly disturbing. The internet basically bullied a 16/17 year old girl into drastically changing her appearance to be considered beautiful, pitting her against her own siblings, and then bashing her 'newfound beauty' once she had undergone all the changes. The sad thing is, at 16, she was completely fine. She would've grown into her looks. Who looks like a supermodel at that age? I certainly didn't - and I can imagine that if I had ever been under the same scrutiny that she had been under, I would have done the exact same thing - changed myself to fit a beauty ideal. I think this just shows the hypocrisy of so many in fashion and beauty, and in society in general. Bash Kylie for not being 'conventionally beautiful' and then bash her again when she tries to do something about it. 

Social Media is becoming a place of increasing normalisation of cosmetic procedures, and I honestly don't think that is a good thing. It's becoming a place of increasing fakery, smoke and mirrors, and the worst thing is, we often don't even know. We're led to believe that these people naturally look the way they do - and I think that's one of the most worrying things about social media - we then judge ourselves against people who don't even look like themselves! For vulnerable teens, 13 year olds who want to be 'beautiful' and who are never happy with what they look like, I dread to think what such is doing to their self esteem and mental health. We've all seen the figures - social media has been shown to be linked with increasing levels of low self-esteem, poor body image, and body dysmorphia. 

Is that not terrible? I always feel like blogging started off as the 'anti-celeb' place, if you like. A place where normal people could gather - we could see how others, just like us, styled their clothes, did their makeup, and so on. But now that is changing, and, as I always say, we've created a new pseudo-'celebrity culture'. Bloggers are increasingly living a 'luxe', 'celebrity lifestyle', the holidays, the designer bags, and the cosmetic procedures. It's all fun and games and looks amazing on the 'gram, but its not relatable anymore. One type of lifestyle is being presented as the ideal, and I'm sure its eating away at people who feel like they've somehow underachieved because they're not living it. I can see how this can feed into negative self perceptions. You think if you get that boob job you'll be slightly more attractive. That designer bag and suddenly you're with the 'it crowd'. It's a slippery slope - and I think it's scary that surgery is becoming part of this lifestyle that is being so heavily promoted by influencers these days. 



As I say, it's tricky, because I first and foremost, I want to be thought of as someone who supports women. Feminism to me, isn't about redefining the role of a woman - it's about saying that there is no role for women. It's about choice. There is no role because women are capable and should be allowed to do whatever they want to do. This includes jobs, sexuality, education, and what they do to their own bodies. On this then, I could never say that I was anti-surgery. Because that would make me anti-choice, and that's something I'd never want to be. I also wonder at want point supporting someone's right to have surgery, inadvertently becomes endorsing body dysmorphia. Because, yes, one might support one's right to change their nose, or their lips, but what about the person who has changed every inch of themselves? Is that not dangerous, and a sure sign of body dysmorphia - a very real mental health problem - how do we morally support someone having surgery when there are signs of that? I do think we also have to seriously think about just how much it makes sense to be both pro-surgery and body positive. Is there not a degree of hypocrisy in preaching self acceptance, when you haven't been able to do that yourself? I understand some people position themselves as 'changing themselves so they could self-accept', but I don't know how that sits with me. I don't know, am I being unfair? I'd love to know what you guys think of this. I'm someone who has grown up constantly insecure. I've only really just started to have a shred of self esteem. I think, if I had been allowed, around 19 I would have wanted to have a bunch of surgeries done. But, 3 years on and those things I would've changed then, don't really bother me anymore, and I'm so glad I never seriously considered surgery. Some things I fall in and out of love with. Like my height. Growing up it truly affected my confidence. I hated being tall. If there had been something I could have done to change it, I would. I surgery that removed part of your leg, a potion that made you shrink - anything going I would've taken. But now my height doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I quite like it. I'll proudly parade about in heels, I don't care who I'm taller than, and I've accepted people calling me 'BFG' lol. I grew out of it and I accepted it - although I accept that perhaps I had to accept it, because there was nothing I could do to change it. 

Ultimately, I think what I'm trying to get across, is that I think we need to think more carefully about why we are getting cosmetic procedures done - what are the real motives behind it? Do you actually dislike a certain part of yourself, or has your insecurity been born of societal expectations? Because, at the end of the day, we can all sit here, and berate 'society' for setting the status quo and unrealistic beauty standards, but we simultaneously perpetuate them and by into them by the decisions we make. And yes, this time that includes the decisions we make with our own bodies. It seems odd to me that the same people who criticise companies for using the same type of model or who argue that beauty ideals are 'wrong' and 'pressurising' can often be the same people altering their bodies to fit into those ideals. That, to me, is hypocrisy, and although I understand how it happens, I think we each have the power, in our own small way, to fight it.


As I say, it has to come down to choice, and I will always always stand up for a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body. But I hope we start to think more about why it is we want to change ourselves so much. How many people had issues with their lips before Kylie Jenner and the rest of the world got theirs enhanced? I don't remember every celebrity having juvaderm injected into their lips in the 90s, or early 2000s. I don't remember lip size even being a thing before Kylie got hers done. So, are you really unhappy with the way they look, or are you just trying to fit into a beauty ideal? How many people had issues with their boob size before they started spending hours and hours on social media? My bet is, not many, because fundamentally, we are conditioned to think something desirable the more we see it. The more we saw girls with blown up lips, with society telling us that it was beautiful, the more we all desire it. 

This may surprise you, but I'm not here to say 'I'll never get work done'. I'm human after all, I feel pressured by beauty ideals, we all fear changes in our bodies as we get older, and I can be hypocritical! But I'd like to think that I'll never see surgery as the only option, but instead, as a very last final resort. I'd like to think that, for all the insecurities I'll have throughout my life, and I'm sure there'll be many - that I'll be able to take that journey to self acceptance, to contextualise it and realise that looks aren't everything, and to only turn to changing it if it really is affecting my life or confidence - because life is too short to be miserable, after all. 

What are your thoughts on plastic surgery? Have you had anything done yourself? I'd love to hear your stories and opinions - (without judgment, of course!) This is one of those topics that has no right or wrong answer and really fascinates me! Leave me your comments below!


Until next time, 
Bisous <3

Eva
xxx

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