The Plastic Surgery Stigma

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Plastic surgery is a controversial topic. On the one hand, I cannot keep count of how many Kim Kardashian look-alikes I’ve seen. It's clear that there is a desired image of beauty washing over Hollywood. On the other hand, plastic surgery can save lives. Babies with Treacher Collins Syndrome can avoid breathing issues thanks to facial reconstruction. People also argue that, aside from physical health, plastic surgery also benefits mental health. Regardless of the circumstances, one thing's for sure: There is an undeniable stigma around plastic surgery.

When botched plastic surgery jobs occur, they result in a bad name for the practice. Images of square-shaped breasts and bottoms and caricaturesque faces come to mind. There are also extreme cases, like the boy who spent approximately $100,000 reconstructing his entire face to look like Justin Bieber. One could argue, based on this anecdote, that some become addicted to plastic surgery. They become obsessed with getting work done, striving to be the perfect specimen.

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While it seems like we obsess over fitting into a standard of beauty, most plastic surgeons argue that is not the purpose of their profession. Plastic surgery is not meant to make people look unnatural. The goal, instead, is to fix slight flaws that hinder their lives, to serve as a “tune-up” that helps them feel beautiful. Dr. Scott Turner is an Australian plastic surgeon dedicated to fighting the stigma of plastic surgery. He supports the benefits, stating that the surgery should help with an individual's self-confidence.

Obviously, plastic surgeons are going to defend what they do for a living, but what does the general U.S. public think of the practice? In 2014, RealSelf took a poll on people's opinions of plastic surgery and "an overwhelming number of people" used phrases that included the word “fake.” This was the largest criticism. Not the expense, not the potential risk, but the idea that cosmetic surgery makes a person less real. Maybe the numerous Kim Kardashian look-alikes are influencing this sentiment. I admit that, personally, I’m wary of it all. I believe in learning to love yourself, despite what the general public insists you should look or act like. I believe in being authentically you and refusing to feed into beauty standards. They’re positive beliefs, but maybe not a realistic ones for everyone.

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I recognize that many have an opinion on the subject, and that is okay. In the end, plastic surgery is a personal choice. It doesn't matter if someone passes judgment on or encourages the practice. If people want to change parts of their appearance to feel better about themselves, who am I to tell them they shouldn’t? There are plenty of plastic surgery success stories and plenty of happy patients. Everyone has the right to choose cosmetic alterations and to make their own decisions without being harassed by negative comments.