In Pursuit of Perfect: The Dark Side of Plastic Surgery

In a society that is well-known for its deeply-set patriarchal undertones and norms, it is a pervasive and nearly inescapable experience for young girls to grow up with a desire to change some aspects of their physical appearance. 


These desires can manifest as a yearning for lip and cheek injections, a rhinoplasty, a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), a breast reduction or augmentation, botox, an eyebrow lift, eyelid surgery, forehead reductions, chin fillers, tummy tucks, arm or thigh lifts, liposuction, fat reductions, skin tightening, and countless of other seemingly endless arrays of cosmetic surgeries that seem to add to the list every single day. No matter which of these surgeries women have aspired to receive, the societal pressure that women feel to pursue the “ideal body” is deeply ingrained within the female experience. 


This phenomenon has numerous disadvantages for our society. Each passing decade seems to establish beauty standards that increasingly become more and more unattainable. The past two decades in particular have demonstrated a rise of social media influencers and celebrities like the Kardashians promoting unrealistic body types and encouraging young girls to feel inclined to “fix” what they feel does not look similar to them. 


With the normalization and glorification of such unnatural physical attributes, it comes as no surprise that plastic surgery is steadily increasing each year. With social media playing such a crucial role in making certain physical traits a trend, now more than ever before societies are becoming more accepting towards the idea of plastic surgeries.


While the normalization of surgical procedures should not be viewed as something inherently problematic, the trends that influencers and celebrities push onto their audience of girls encourages them to desire plastic surgery under the guise of feminist empowerment. This normalization of non-essential surgeries has resulted in dangerous surgeries such as BBL’s rising globally nearly 80% since 2015. Their mortality rate is higher than any other plastic surgery, with approximately 1 in 3,000 patients dying after undergoing this procedure. 


Plastic surgeons have even admitted to seeing increases in patients seeking cosmetic procedures directly influenced by what they observe on social media. While the choice to undergo plastic surgery still remains a woman’s own personal choice, discovering the underlying motivations and where these desires have really stemmed from shows that many times there is underlying societal pressure tied to it. 


For instance, while lip fillers may contribute to enhanced self-esteem, the question arises: Why is this the case? This phenomenon is a result of societal expectations dictating how a woman should appear, what will make her seem more beautiful according to the influential figures that have implemented these standards. Statistics such as reports that show that 92% of plastic surgeries in 2019 were conducted on women make it hard to ignore the perpetual fixation that society has on implying the image of the “perfect body” into the mind of susceptible young girls. 


The representation of the “perfect body” is in a constant state of flux. Every few years – particularly within those that social media has been around – the new “trendy” body type is switched out as easily and swiftly as a seasonal fashion trend. 


In the early 2000’s, it was not uncommon to hear actresses in comedy sitcoms and movies ask their friend: “Does my butt look big in this?”. As the 2010’s rolled around, women who had a curvier body shape became the ultimate goal. Now, in the beginning of the 2020’s, celebrities are reversing their BBLs and breast implants as society is once again bringing the ultra-thin chic look back.  


This seemingly never-ending and ever-evolving pursuit of the “perfect body” has assumed the characteristics of a cat-and-mouse game that will perpetually compel women to alter their natural features in their quest for acceptance and respect within their society.


If women were able to exist in a society that did not implement the immediate value of their appearance and the expectation to constantly physically adjust themselves every time a new trend began circulating the internet, then plastic surgery might not be as profitable and normalized as it is. 


Breaking free of the pattern of constantly changing one’s natural features will allow for us to live in a society that celebrates the unique and inherent beauty that lies within each person, free from the relentless quest of forever evolving beauty standards.