In today’s world, the media plays an important role in the process of socializing. The media has enhanced stereotypes to a considerable degree. People are impacted by what is shown on the media either positively or negatively. Since childhood, children are exposed to various forms of media, and the process continues throughout their lifetime; therefore, it is difficult to isolate the impact media has upon an individual’s personality. Adding on, the media places much emphasis upon physical beauty and even children’s cartoons depict this beauty either directly or indirectly. For instance, the world famous Disney Character Cinderella is portrayed as an elegant and beautiful young woman; whereas, the evil sisters are ugly. Consequently, the media is trying to show that if a person is beautiful they would be able to get the man of their choice. Children, especially girls, are made to believe that it is imperative to look beautiful because that is the only way they would get married to a good man. The media ignores the inner beauty and the need for a strong character in an individual’s personality. Furthermore, the over-emphasis upon looking young has placed extra stress upon individual’s to ensure their skin looks flawless throughout their lives. Introduction of anti-aging creams and products is a sign of an existing market which wants to use these products. Rather than teaching people how to enjoy every stage of the lifecycle the media concentrates upon pausing at a certain age physically.
Continuous exposure to a set of messages creates a mind-set amongst people and it becomes the norm. People have been exposed to messages that stress upon the need to look beautiful for success in all areas of life; therefore, they go to all extremes to enhance their physical beauty. Science, technology, and research have contributed positively towards medicine and over the years significant progress has been made in cosmetic surgery, as well. Initially, plastic surgery was common amongst victims of severe accidents; however, trends have changed over the years, and people pursue cosmetic surgery on every part of their body. Michael Jackson is a famous example of a psychological patient who had several plastic surgeries done on his face. Psychiatrists suggest that plastic surgery for the purpose of changing one’s physical features be a psychological condition and most patients who are interviewed pre-surgery are victims of a psychological disorder. Individuals believe that plastic surgery would improve their confidence and self-esteem, and there are favorable post-operation results of these individuals. A case example of a woman who is highly self-conscious and in her thirties wants plastic surgery because she feels she may be able to look better after the surgery. People similar to the one presented in the case example often experience loss of self-esteem because of their levels of consciousness (Ericksen & Billick, 2012).
It is natural for people to grow older with age, and this has an effect upon the mental and physical state. Women experience aging of the skin with time and some women are particularly disturbed by this stage in their lives. There are women who place great importance upon their physical beauty and social circle, specifically in Western societies (Ericksen, 2012). Individuals who undergo cosmetic surgery may benefit from the procedure temporarily. After a certain age, it becomes impossible to feel the same way about surgery and the surgery may have a declining effect. Women often go into depression and become patients of other psychological disorders when they are unable to feel good about their physical appearance. On the other hand, people who do not attempt any plastic often surgeries report higher self-esteem and satisfaction from their appearance as compared to their counterparts. The higher levels of satisfaction are the result of lack of physical expectations and enjoying the stage of the lifecycle where they naturally belong. Going against the norm of nature rarely produces a satisfactory or content feeling. Plastic surgery helps many people to deal with societal pressures of looking good, but it permanently damages their self-esteem because they start believing that without plastic surgery they would not be appreciated or welcomed in their social circles. The dilemma of plastic surgery is more common amongst women than in men because the media emphasizes the need for women to look good rather than men. America may be considered a hub for plastic surgery and a poll revealed that 4 percent of the general public had undergone some form of plastic surgery (Eriksen, 2012). A case example suggests that an Arab American woman undergo rhinoplasty even though it was against her religious beliefs and family values. This shows the strength of plastic surgery as a way to make oneself look good. This suggests that women be willing to go to any extreme to boost their confidence, self-esteem, and desire to look good.
There are various television programs such as; The Swan and Extreme Makeover that have led women to believe that they should have a perfect body. During the process of installing the perfect body type into people’s mindsets, the media has ignored the importance of morals and values. In earlier times, women were well-cultured and had strong moral principles. Today’s women need the moral values and are too busy achieving the ideal body type. Reluctance to have children is also partly the effect of the media because women think that they would not be able to have the perfect body if they bear a child. In other words, the cultural values that were strongly connected with women are changing and in the future there would be an entire new set of value system. Women are seen as objects in society, and this has led to women questioning their body types and appearance. As women are forced to have a sexual appeal many of the advertisements specifically those aimed at breast augmentation are widely circulated across the different mediums of the media (Kaminski & Reichert, 2010). During the 1980’s, the media was subtle in portraying the need for breast implants or liposuction; however, the media is now bolder in advertising these surgeries. Apart from the media, there are several products available in the market that call for similar marketing campaigns. Businesses are making profits in this largely unexploited market segment as research suggests there be women who would be willing to try the products. Furthermore, the media has created expectations about the ideal women and most men often look for these traits in their partners who put pressure upon women to meet their partner’s expectations. Very often unmet expectations lead to breakups, and this has an adverse impact upon the well-being of society and future generations.
Patients who undergo plastic surgery often report post-operation depression, aggressiveness, and suicidal thoughts in the extreme cases if the surgery does not go as planned. On the other hand, people who do not consider plastic surgery are content with their appearances; therefore spend less time in psychiatric wards or clinics. The latter category of individuals is those who place greater emphasis upon values, morals, ethics, and personality rather than the physical appearance. Undoubtedly, physical appearances matter a lot in today’s world, and many jobs such as; receptionist, salesperson, PR manager, etc. prefer people who have an attractive appearance. Even though, it is against the law to discriminate people based on their physical appearance, but it does play an important role under the covers. Doctors may recommend or discourage people to undergo plastic surgery depending upon the mental health and necessity for the surgery. If an individual is an alcoholic before the surgery, they may consider suicide after the surgery and doctors may not recommend to such patients. However, plastic surgeons earn a living through performing these surgeries; thus, they may be supportive of the patient’s decision and give them positive hope if the patient is unwilling to change their decision. If an individual goes against family values to undergo surgery, they may require some form of the support group as a post-surgery requirement because it takes effort to adjust with a new appearance. In the case, the surgery does not produce the expected results the patient must have support from someone to help them adjust to the change and accept responsibility for their decision. Self-esteem may be hurt further if the surgery does not go as planned. Therefore, plastic surgery may rebound and produce a lower self-esteem, as a result, rather than a positive self-esteem. It is important for doctors to convey to their patients clearly the downside of the surgery so that they are able mentally to prepare the individual. Precautionary measures may help reduce the negative and extreme consequences.
The social media has played an important role in the rise of plastic surgery in recent times. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery polled and showed results that 31 percent of doctors said that people consulted plastic surgery through the social media (Reicks, 2012). Social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram have become all the rage these days, and with a huge spike in popularity, many people want to make their online presence as good, if not better, than what they are like in real life. For example, Facebook, where users can have their personal profiles along with pictures and connect with the outside world, has become important today. Users value their profiles, and, as a result, want themselves to look good in them too. In fact, such has been the impact of the social media on everyday life that many people come across each other firstly on Facebook, and then meet in real life. The social media profile then becomes the sole channel where a person learns about the other, and a good first impression is a must have. In addition, the social media is full of pictures of celebrities and stars that are the cause of envy of many. Many users want to replicate the looks of their favorite star, that is, have pictures just like them and be 'liked' just like their celebrity counterparts. Friends too are another reason an increasing number of people have been opting for cosmetic surgery. The quest to look good and improve the so-called 'flaws' has fueled the love for plastic surgery. Although in hindsight, the quest to look good on the social media might be easy to dismiss as a mere fad that a few people have, the truth is altogether different. Cases of online bullying, where users get bullied by other people on the internet in regards to their appearance, have been increasing quite dramatically, and there is no end in sight. Sometimes, online bullying can end up being a serious affair, and there have been a few cases where bullying victims have ended up taking their own lives. Thus, considering the sort of the devastating impact that online bullying can have, it come as little surprise that people want to avoid being victims themselves, and are, therefore, willing to go lengths to iron out issues with their appearance. The way a person looks on the social media can also have a direct impact on self-esteem. Being at the receiving end of bullying and negative comments can severely affect a person's self-esteem and confidence, which in turn, can lead to more serious issues. On the other hand, however, being praised on the social media and being called 'pretty' or 'beautiful' can lift spirits and boost confidence like few other things can.. Sociocultural models (cf. Dittmar, 2008; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-Dunn, 1999), state that the media is a major contributor towards feelings of dissatisfaction amongst girls and women with regards to their physical appearance. Simply put, the statement means that both girls and women are quick to find flaws in their appearances when the media highlights cosmetic surgery and tries to push it across to the viewer. Adolescent girls are exposed continually to pictures of so called 'perfect women' that have seemingly everything going for them with regards to looks (Fouts & Burggraf, 2000;
Spock, Gray, & Ahrens, 2004). There is a certain kind of figure that the Western media highlights the most. This particular figure is of a woman with a thin waistline, curves, and flawless skin. However, the problem with this particular figure that it is almost impossible to replicate in real life by the average women. Unfortunately though, most women do not understand the fact that celebrities and models go under the knife to achieve their looks, and without surgery, it is simply impossible to look like that. Another huge problem is the arrival of the TV shows related to cosmetic surgery. These types of shows first began to arrive on the scene during 2002, and have since increased in popularity. Although different shows have different twists, the basic storyline has remained the same. In most shows, an individual or a group of individuals is shown that are unhappy with the way they look. These people then want to change their appearances by going under the knife, and transforming their looks. For all their glory and popularity, surgery reality TV shows seldom show the side effects of cosmetic surgery, instead highlighting the procedure as risk free (Lee, 2009; Nabi, 2009). This particular issue has been highlighted by both the American Society for Plastic Surgeons and British Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (2004), and both the organizations have stated that surgery reality TV shows lead viewers to think that cosmetic surgeries are risk free and that there are no complications involved. In addition, TV shows associated with cosmetic surgery often portray a happy ending. This, however, is not true, as in many cases, the person receiving the surgery has not been satisfied by the outcome, creating even harsher self esteem issues. The adverse effects of one cosmetic surgery show, Dr.90210 on adolescent girls has been proved by research. The girls were exposed to the show, and regardless of the content, it had adverse effects on the girls' body image. Where these shows impact the viewer's mind is through the way they feature healthy looking women, who are a far cry from their media idols. This leads to the average viewer feeling quite the same way as the person featured in the show; that is, the viewer comes to learning about the difference that exists between her and her idol's looks. The age group in the female population that has the most liking towards cosmetic surgery is middle aged women. Although middle-aged women are the leading consumers of cosmetic surgery, there have been only a handful of studies on them. Research states that like young girls, middle aged women also have a significant amount of body dissatisfaction ( Tiggemann, 2004). The consequences of this dissatisfaction also have a direct impact on self-esteem (Webster & Tiggemann, 2003) and depression (Simon et al., 2008). The worrying consequence of the fact that middle-aged women are the leading consumers of cosmetic surgery is that even as women continue to age, they continue to place a great amount of importance on the way they look. Therefore, if the perceived looks are not thought to be good enough, then feelings of depression and self-doubt start to come to light. In addition, since cosmetic surgery has become so commonplace, it is almost natural for women with self-doubt to opt for the procedure and improve their looks.
The fact of the matter is that the physical appearance has overtaken other attributes. Instead of valuing a person with a healthy personality, people nowadays look upon those who look good, regardless of the way they behave in real life. This particular problem has been created by the social media, where people value 'virtual' presence as higher than anything else. Moreover, other forms of media such as television have also contributed to the increase in demand of plastic surgery. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that social media users are going to great lengths to ensure that they get the kind of looks that others will like, and possibly envy too. An increasing number of cosmetic surgeries has also overtaken the most natural methods of looking good, exercise and the consumption of a healthy diet. While once a good workout was the sole method through which a person could get in shape, nowadays, a mere visit to the surgeon does the job without requiring any of the sacrifices, and, unfortunately, the trend is set to continue. The influence of media is growing exponentially as time is progressing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to lessen its impact. Marketers are benefiting in terms of hundreds of dollars through their gimmickries by portraying plastic surgery as a viable option. When women did not have the opportunity to change the way, they looked they were much happier as they were no pre-set standards against which they could measure their beauty. True beauty lies within the personality of an individual, and this is reflected on a person’s appearance. However, as the trend towards materialism is increasing women want to look their best.
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