For as long as time and lives have been recorded, depending on the culture, surgeries have been performed to “better” the recipients; although, it may have been needed in some cases. For example, in India the noses of criminals and adulterers were cut off for permanent public shame. Sushruta (an Indian Doctor) took it upon himself to fix the faces of the ex-criminals and adulterers in hopes he could encourage forgiveness and reduce public shame. His procedure required removing skin from the person’s cheeks or forehead, which was then applied to the nose. As the years passed and societies changed, the reasons to undergo plastic surgery changed too. Plastic surgery went from being used for repairing the noses of those that lost them in India, to fixing fallen soldiers and covering brands of ex-slaves in Ancient Rome, to what it is today. A society with a growing percentage of those suffering with body dysmorphic disorder (a mental disorder characterized by a distorted body image and obsessions about perceived physical shortcomings), and unattainable ideals of thinness and big breasts.
All the while, the main recurring role model for these so-called ideals is a 12-inch plastic doll with an impossible and unattainable figure and features; Barbie. A standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches tall, giving a height of 5 feet 9 inches at 1/6 scale. Barbie’s figure has been estimated at 36 inch chest, 18 inch waist and 33 inch hips. At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. I personally don’t know anyone that would want to live like that. Barbie may only have existed since March 9, 1959, but it’s amazing to see the kind of internal damage and influence one doll can have on the entire female population of the world. The thoughts feeding the hunger for the “Cult of Thinness” are not just a side effect of Barbie’s existence. It’s emanating and oozing out of practically every person we meet, every place we enter, and everything we see. We can’t escape it. No matter where we go. It’s even waiting for us for when we get home.
Bombarded by advertisements on websites, newsletters, walks or drives to work or school, on tv; the list goes on. Even some parents have even joined in on telling their children they should be skinny (girl) and muscular (boy). If Barbie is the role model, it is no wonder as to why people are insecure about themselves, and a fair percentage eventually undergo plastic surgery. Some say only women are subject to symbolic damage (insecurities), which are society created. However, women are not the only one’s suffering with insecurities. Walking through the streets or a mall, or just watching tv at home, advertisements displaying thin, but big chested women and muscular men everywhere you go, after awhile it starts to get to you. “I’m not good enough if I don’t look like that.” Maybe they start obsessing over their “imperfections” and start trying any method that comes up in an attempt to “fix” what they think is broken. Women do represent the majority of all procedures performed, and that’s because advertisers would not spend the money on advertisements for women, if they did not know whether or not it would attract women’s attention.
Majority of the cosmetic industries profits are gained from the female population, and they even influence some men to purchase some cosmetic products. But that does not say that men are harder to persuade, because that is not the case. On average, women are typically more easily persuaded because they are usually more worried about their appearance than men and companies take full advantage of it. As a result, poor self-images and poor self-esteems come forth, and they may look into undergoing plastic surgery. Some decide to go through with plastic surgery only as a last resort after trying everything possible. Then there are other people that go straight to plastic surgery. Some may say that those people are taking the easy way out and that people are far too vain these days. Probably everyone that undergoes plastic surgery think it will “fix” their imperfections, like they are something that is broken. For the people that go through with it, they may not be happy with the results because it may not match up with how they feel on the inside and/or realizing they were fine before and should have found someone to talk to (whether it be a friend, family member, psychiatrist, etc.).
Now they are not only stuck with the unsatisfying results and psychological damage still remains. Some procedures are more deviantized than others; however, with the increasing numbers, plastic surgery is being integrated into the normality of life. Perhaps in the future if you do not have something done, you’re not “normal.” As for the present, our natural and cosmetic bodies can be/are deviantized. Take Laura for example, she was a beautiful woman when she was first introduced in the documentary, but she wasn’t happy. She had thought about undergoing plastic surgery probably for awhile, but what really set her over the edge was her on-again-off-again boyfriend of 8 years had broken up with her the night before. Laura hired an image consultant at $2000/day to more or less belittle her about her body, put on some ugly clothes and say they’ll fit her better after the liposuction, she always look stern, and her breasts are saggy and uneven. The procedures Laura decided to have done was a breast lift (plus make them a little bigger), brow lift, and liposuction. I admit that I thought Laura looked a lot better and more attractive after the surgeries, but that does not say she was not attractive before.
During Louis’s final chat with Laura, Louis had asked Laura if she felt like she had lost her identity and is part of the conformist group. Laura states that she felt as if she was stepping into her true identity and that now she is “one of the beautiful people.” It amazes me that she never saw herself as attractive or beautiful before. In Laura’s case, after that round of surgeries, she was completely satisfied with the results and that she wouldn’t be looking to get anything else done. However, I think she may be at conflict with herself a little over all of the reasons why she decided and went through with the surgeries. Laura was not the only person in Louis Theroux’s Under the Knife. There were a few people that have gone through multiple surgeries; Steve, Adrian and Adrianna. Dr. Nikolas Chugay was the second doctor to be seen. During the interview, Louis was able to meet one of Dr. Chugay’s patients; Steve. Louis asked Dr. Chugay, “Is it fair to say that Steve is kind of a creation of yours?,” referring to Doctor Frankenstein’s monster. “Small things bother me in a larger way than they do other people. If I had bags under my eyes, I just couldn’t live with it” (Steve).
Steve seems to have gotten so much botox injected into his face that he now talks with a severe lisp. He has had so much work done on himself that I think he almost looks plastic. Doll-like even. The other male in the documentary, Adrian, found an interesting way of self-medicating; however, he is probably the only that saught professional help because of the emotional damage caused by his step-father. Adrian underwent multiple surgeries: top of the eyes, bottom of the eyes, cheek implants, facial filler, pectoral implants, bicep implants, tummy tuck and liposuction (in no specific order). It is sometimes amazes me to think about some of the things people are willing to do to help them feel better about themselves or just plainly look better. Now for the fourth and final poor and unfortunate soul, Adrianna. By 26 years old, she has already gotten 7 surgeries done. From what I remember she got a breast augmentation, later got them fixed to be even, rhinoplasty, tummy tuck, and liposuction. I personally don’t think she needed to get her nose done, get a tummy tuck or liposuction done. I didn’t see any love handles when she was showing the Louis what she was going to be getting done. It even looked like she wsas struggling to grab the “fat,” so she resorted to pushing the skin down to make them look more noticeable.
Everyone does have a different way of dealing with things, but I personally don’t think there was anything there to fix. Happiness; can it be found after undergoing one or more plastic surgeries? I think so. Laura, for example, was completely satisfied with the results and seemed truly happy, except for maybe the boyfriend part. Others, like Steve, I don’t think will ever be happy with the way they look because they will constantly seek out more imperfections just so they can get it fixed, and feel as if they are perfect. But money can’t buy you happiness, just like perfection doesn’t mean one is happy. I believe that people can do whatever they want with their bodies, as long as they are happy with the results and where it has taken them in life. If you choose to go through with something, make sure it’s what you truly want, because if it isn’t, you will regret it later. If I had the money and did all of the necessary research on finding a suitable plastic surgeon, I think I would get something done.
After my pregnancy with my son, it left my right rib cage 1cm and a half more forward than my left. It has gone down in the 2 and a half years since, but there is still a gap that causes health complications, and because of that, I can be labelled as a chronic pain patient. If I was able to, I would get my ribs fixed, perhaps a breast lift. Actually, get my breasts looked at all together, because I am constantly uncomfortable with how they naturally sit. I’m personally not comfortable with my breasts starting in my arm pits. You have to keep readjusting your bra throughout the day and you can never find a comfortable way the bra sits. Plus, because of that minor issue, no bra likes to fit properly. It’s nothing I’m too concerned about, but of course it’s something I’ve thought about. My personal opinion on plastic surgeries is very plain and simple; if you want to, then go ahead with it, but first ask yourself if you have tried every other alternative. People shouldn’t automatically jump on the plastic surgery bandwagon whenever they think something is “wrong” with them. Maybe try talking to someone. It can even be as simple as looking yourself in the mirror everyday and saying “I am an attractive individual, and I am perfect just the way I am.”