With Australians alone spending more than $1 billion annually on cosmetic procedures, it’s surprising it is still a taboo topic and there is an underlying fear of cosmetic shaming of most of the recipients.  So why do we as a society make men and women feel so bad about altering their image through such procedures?

They must be totally superficial

They must be vain, right? Even lack character, priorities or perhaps their just totally superficial? Surely they are if they are going to the extreme of cosmetically altering their bodies to feel more beautiful, emotionally gratified or to look a little more like a Hollywood star and less like a housewife.

The truth is there is nothing wrong with having plastic surgery whether it is to tweak some minor issues, recreate some areas of the body we dislike or resolve a health issue. Research shows that only 12 percent of cosmetic surgery patients have unrealistic expectations, suggesting that most are normal people like you and I. They didn’t expect that by going under the knife they would enhance their appearance to look like a supermodel or that the procedure would solve all their emotional problems like a flick of the switch.

What this study does show is that cosmetic surgery participants had a boost in confidence and happiness.  They also “felt healthier, were less anxious, had developed more self-esteem” than that of people who chose not to have a cosmetic procedure.  All in all, they felt more attractive and satisfied about their body as a whole.  Surely we should be happy and supportive for that outcome?

The pressures and scrutiny of media

Media is largely responsible for fueling the cosmetic shaming problem and making people feel they have to hide their cosmetic procedure. As soon as they suspect a celebrity has had any cosmetic treatment as minimal as cosmetic injections to the more invasive surgeries such as a breast augmentation, they go in for the kill.  The physical transformations of celebrities such as Renée Zellweger, Uma Thurman and more recently Kylie Jenner have been secrutinised and picked over with a fine tooth comb to publicly shame them into admitting each and every enhancement they have had done.

In same way through the media fosters this idea of what the ideal beauty is and in doing so has spurred on a rise in the number of everyday women and increasingly more men turning to plastic surgery.  Together with the technology of smart phones and social media platforms such as Instagram there has been a steady rise in the number of procedures performed annually.

Everyday people are enhancing their image

While skeptics and those with an overly active opinion seem to think people are electing to have plastic surgery because their insecure or care about their looks rather than what’s on the ‘inside’, the real reasons are far from that.  We see people enquire about cosmetic procedures for many reasons from wanting to change something that has bothered them all their lives, to correcting their appearance due to injury or to bring a little bit of youth back in their lives.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with an adult choosing to make cosmetic modifications to their own body.  What is wrong is how we criticise and mock people for doing so.

The fact is today all walks of life are taking the advantage of the many cosmetic treatments available to enhance and alter their physical appearance. People in their 60’s are having a neck lift to feel more youth, men are undergoing liposuction to create a more contoured and athletic shape and women are having Botox to smooth over their unwanted lines.  No matter how harshly or unfairly judged, cosmetic procedures are showing no signs of slowing down.