This week’s readings explored self-work through plastic surgery and explored how the world of cosmetic surgery plays into the wider social and political factors that govern our society. A really interesting idea for me was the question raised in the Self Esteem reading of whether or not cosmetic surgery violated the Hippocratic oath, asking if the risks involved in the surgeries and procedures actually provided healing.
I feel like the answer to that question can vary so much depending on the reasons behind it. For babies born with a cleft palette, to not have the reconstructive surgery to fix a slight anomaly in their upper lip means years of torment and ridicule for being born against the standard definition of an acceptable look. The idea of a procedure like that makes the risks seem worth it. In other cases like that of Justin Jedlicka, the “Human Ken Doll,” does turning yourself into a human doll really make him feel better about himself? Whose to say? The beauty of the industry is that you can reconstruct yourself into the most idealized version of “you” possible. Is this vanity? Or just conforming to the notion that when you look good (by your own standards) you feel better about yourself? I feel like the world has gradually made a little silicone pump or botox injection so acceptable because we are a society that recognizes physical appearance as an outward manifestation of who you are on the inside.
I’ve existed on both sides of the debate for Natural v. Enhanced and have come to the conclusion that at the end of the day it’s your life and your body. You’re the one who wakes up in the morning and sees yourself, and quite frankly if there isn’t something you like, then change it. That doesn’t necessarily mean go for cheek implants and 15 units of botox off the top, but do what you can so that you can live your best life for yourself.
We’ve become so afraid of a little sag in our chest, or a wrinkle around the eyes because of our society’s obsession with staying young forever. The procedures that work to slow or even reverse the effects of the passage of time can only do so much. Regardless, the obsession is there, and technology is only getting better. I’m genuinely curious to find out just how far we will take this trend.