Rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), octoplasty (ear surgery,) breast augmentation, face lifts, botox, chemical peels, injectable fillers....the list for cosmetic beauty procedures goes on and on.
Cosmetic beauty enhancement is a multi billion dollar industry. Research shows that Australia has outspent the US in terms of cosmetic spending per capita. Should we be celebrating?
The potential risks are widely known. They include redness, bruising, severe swelling, drooping and lopsidedness. Botox carries the risk of the Botulism toxin making its way to the respiratory muscles resulting in difficulty swallowing and breathing. Puzzlingly, none of these risks to be a deterrent for those resorting to needle or knife in the quest for beauty.
The health and monetary costs are quantifiable. However the psychological and social costs might be more damaging. What messages are we sending out to the younger generation by altering, repairing and enhancing beauty using such invasive techniques?Are these procedures empowering or limiting?
On one hand, positive messages are all the rage in our society. Slogans such as 'love yourself', 'love the skin you're born with', 'you're unique', 'embrace your imperfections' are plastered over everything from t-shirts to social media. We remind our children that they are beautiful just the way they are and 'it's what on the inside that counts'. Yet it is almost impossible to reconcile those messages to the proliferation of cosmetic beauty enhancements all around.
Will the focus on outer beauty distract from developing inner beauty, emotional maturity, and meaningful values. Beauty has become the ultimate 'quick fix'.
Willingly injecting a known poison should ring alarm bells but yet the number of botox treatments are increasing exponentially. I can't help but draw parallels to the characters of witches in fairy tales who have the one common objective...the pursuit of beauty and eternal youth at any cost.
Botox hinders muscle movement; this in turn hinders facial expression. Facial expressions are an essential aspect of communication. People listen to words but body language and expressions are more powerful tools of the communication process. These expressions are a vital part of networking and connecting with one another. Tempering with facial expressions impacts the ability to make real and meaningful connections.
Ageing, formation of wrinkles and lines are natural life processes. What you lose in looks, you gain in maturity. Does it not come across as slightly 'odd' when someone looks decades younger than their true age; when someone walks like a 70 year old but doesn't look a day over 40? In simple terms...it just doesn't 'stack up.' If ageing is no longer 'accepted', will there come a day when the 'elderly' are treated with repulsion instead of respect? There is a different kind of beauty, charisma and grace that comes with ageing naturally.
It would be fascinating to map out the long term psychological impact of cosmetic beauty enhancements on society and future generations. Could the billions of dollars pumped into the industry be spent more meaningfully?
If we don't model self acceptance, there's no point preaching self worth to our children. The message should not be about changing, filing in or taking off the skin we are born in. The focus should be on healthy beauty, inner beauty and intelligent beauty. Allowing real beauty to flourish will create a more genuine and truly beautiful society.