Have you ever altered your appearance before? Chances are, you have. Whether it’s wearing makeup, losing or gaining weight, or dying your hair, at some point or another you’ve changed the way you look. And nobody questions us when we do these things. So, why do some people question those who go one step further, and alter their appearance under the knife?
Plastic surgery is one of the largest specialties in medicine, yet there’s still a huge amount of stigma surrounding it. Some people believe it’s unnatural to alter the body you were born into. Others think plastic surgery is unsafe or a waste of money. And while these are all acceptable views to have, it’s important to remember that each individual who goes “under the knife,” does it for a reason that is important to them.
The decision to undergo plastic surgery is a personal one, and isn’t one that we should judge someone for, especially if we’ve never been in their situation. Contrary to popular belief, these decisions don’t make someone “shallow”, or “vain”.
We know some people do undergo plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons. But this doesn’t mean these people are insecure. And, even if they are, we should support them, not judge them.
A junior Biology major who preferred to remain anonymous, told us her story about her decision to undergo plastic surgery…
“I decided to get plastic surgery because I was uncomfortable with my nose, my chin and my ears. I was self conscious, I hated looking at my side-profile and people were making comments that I had no chin.” she says. “So I had a rhinoplasty (a nose job), a chin augmentation and an otoplasty (getting my ears pinned back).”
“For me, I got plastic surgery because I thought it was the best decision for me and my body – it allowed me to stop worrying about myself so much, and gave me more confidence,” she says, “And I honestly don’t like how people put a stigma on plastic surgery, because it really changes some people’s lives, not only physically, but also mentally.”
But plastic surgery comes in waves of necessity, too. For example, many women have reduced the size of their breasts, due to back and neck pain, uncomfortable weight and other situations that arise from having overly large breasts. In situations like this, plastic surgery is medically necessary.
For Malek Williams, a junior Economics major, a reconstructive rhinoplasty was urgent when he was hit in the face during a football game his freshman year of high-school. “It actually obstructed my breathing,” he says, “so I had to sleep upright until I had the surgery.”
“As a guy, I’ll say I had plastic surgery, and it’s not a big deal. It had to be fixed. Even if it wasn’t a medical reason and I wanted to improve my appearance, I don’t think it’s a big deal,” says Williams.
“For medical reasons, if something needs to be done, there’s absolutely no reason not to. And for cosmetic reasons, too, if you don’t like something about yourself and want to change it, just go for it!”
The bottom line is, regardless of why someone chooses to have plastic surgery, we need to be more accepting of one another. The importance of a positive body image is definitely something we need to stress.
If plastic surgery helps you feel better about yourself, than by all means, go for it. And if you’re not a fan, that’s okay too. But until we learn to love one another, and accept each other as we are, women and men alike will struggle to feel confident within themselves and the world. And that is what leads to a negative self image.