"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Price of Beauty

WHAT IS THE OBSESSION?! I just don't get it... why are people so obsessed with being perfect that they turn themselves into freakish robot women in this city? I'm sure the root of this relates back to my last post regarding the negative thoughts we learn to believe about ourselves. We have running narratives in our heads about who we are... what our story is. For many people these stories are an endless tape of negativity about all the things they believe are wrong with them. Can't we give ourselves a break before we all end up like Heidi and Micheal Jackson?

Plastic surgery is becoming the latest to join the ranks of the addiction epidemic. Like gambling, drug, alcohol, and sex addictions, plastic surgery is another way for people in pain to "fix" their feelings in maladaptive ways. In plastic surgery addiction, like other addictions, no amount of surgery proves to be satisfying and the obsession remains after procedures are done. Furthermore, the risks of the behavior do not deter from the impulse to "use." Besides the obvious dangers of turning into a freakish looking creature, there are also many tangible threats that this type of excessive behavior presents. The health risks to any surgery are quite frightening despite how common elective surgeries have become. Surgery in America is generally safe, but there are risks and it is surprising that so many people are willing to take the chance and endure the physical pain in order to change the way they look.

This is not a phenomenon that is unique to the US. All over the world women (and men) are paying the price of beauty. Jessica Simpson's show, The Price of Beauty, depicts what women around the world sacrifice for what their culture considers beautiful. In an episode in Thailand, one woman (pictured here) used a cream to make her skin lighter. Instead, her skin was bleached unevenly and permanently. The woman's spirit was broken and her self-esteem shattered. Is all this really worth it?

An imperative change that our community needs to make is to recognize this as an addiction and, therefore, it is essential to have more stringent regulations for doctors, especially plastic surgeons. It is unethical practice to provide such excessive elective plastic surgery that it becomes detrimental to their patients' physical and mental health. It is comparable to doctors who over prescribe drugs for patients who are clearly addicts (i.e. Anna Nicole Smith, Micheal Jackson) Where are the laws to regulate these doctors? What happened to that good old Hippocratic oath?

Almost all types of addiction can be related back to trauma in childhood. Consequently, ethical plastic surgeons will require that patients have a psychological screening before any major plastic surgeries. It's too bad more doctor's don't simply refer their patients for mental health services instead of handing out breast augmentations like candy. If people were able to feel good about themselves on the inside they would not be so critical of their appearance. People trust doctors to make their health a priority and it seems to me that in LA some doctors care more about making a buck than an ethical practice.

The Canyon in Malibu is just one of many substance abuse rehabilitation centers that are beginning to treat this rapidly growing epidemic in LA.


  1. Hi,

    As a fellow social worker, your blog caught my eye! I couldn't agree more with your statement:

    "It's too bad more doctor's don't simply refer their patients for mental health services instead of handing out breast augmentations like candy"

    Ethically, surgeons should know when to say No, and not compromise the health and well-being of their patient just to make a profit. If they have a patient who has had multiple surgeries, as their doctor they should recognize there may be an underlying addiction present and refer their patient to a therapist before putting them under the knife. Some doctors may argue that if they don't operate on the patient, he or she will go somewhere else (Mexico or another place that offers cheap surgery) and not receive the same treatment and end up disfiguring themselves. This is a weak argument and surgeons need to start implementing tougher policies when it comes to how many times a patient can go under the knife.

    The western mentality is that you can never be too thin or too rich. Our so-called "role models" (i.e. celebs, singers, who make up the minority of people) set an impossible standard for ordinary people (majority)to live up to. The media gives off so many mixed signals (eat healthy, don´t change who you are, yet at the same time bashing celebs who have gained a few pounds and printing models on magazines who have been airbrushed.
    Eating disorders, addictions and plastic surgery are on the rise.
    Its no surprise that cultures that value and implement religious modesty have low rates of addiction, eating disorders and plastic surgery (Muslim women, etc)

  2. Very insightful! thanks for the comment

  3. need to wear makeup everyday

  4. What are the physiological underpinnings of the surgery? Is it considered a process addiction or substance? It's not too big a problem here (Canada), but I was in Australia last week and cosmetic medicine was everywhere.

  5. http://plasticsergeant.com/heidi-montag

  6. nice blog :D