In a world of high-definition everything, the pressure is on for everyone to always look their best.
For a celebrity, with cameras, both their own and that of the paparazzi, constantly on them, plastic surgery is often the answer — sometimes before the person is even old enough to vote.
For regular, non-famous people who don’t live in the public eye, Instagram can be stressful enough already. Not only do your friends’ lives seem more fun, but their skin looks smoother, their waists slimmer.
According to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 18,000 teens ages 13-19 got a form of Botox in 2013. There seems to be ever more pressure for young people to look perfect.
Are our public standards of beauty so new? Getting nipped and tucked certainly isn’t. Younger women altering themselves isn’t exactly novel, either.
What’s new, though, is how common it is.
The 2014 Annual American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Survey blamed “the rise of the selfie,” and there may be something to that.
We’re taking more pictures of ourselves and each other than ever before and our exhibitionist lives are leading to a pressure for beauty that is starting at an ever younger age. We use Photoshop, Instagram filters and other enhancements to project our best looks to the world. Plastic surgery doesn’t seem so crazy as the next step anymore.
We’re perfecting our best angle in every picture we snap and changing ourselves to improve on it. One of the most visible examples of this is Kylie Jenner who, at the age of 16, went from an awkward but still very pretty teenager to an unrecognizable bombshell. Though she only admits to having her lips plumped, speculation is that her butt, breasts and nose have all been done as well.
Kylie addressed her changed lips during an episode of her family’s hit show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” In it, she said she had always felt insecure about her looks and so she had fillers put in to boost her lips.
Of course, even before her father, Bruce Jenner, transitioned to Caitlyn, this was clearly a family that took their plastic surgery very seriously. So it’s not a huge surprise that Kylie started so young.
It’s not just Kylie, of course, though her prominence on our TV screens makes her a target of our “did she or didn’t she” plastic-surgery fascination. In the past, good cosmetic work went unnoticed while bad cosmetic work caused us to ask “is that the girl from Dirty Dancing?!”
Now even good cosmetic work is obvious and the stigma around it practically erased — most of the time.
Model Gisele Bundchen had long been outspoken on her opposition to plastic surgery, preferring, she said, a more natural approach to living. So when she gave in and went under the knife in Paris recently, she donned a full burqa to hide from the media.
Unfortunately for her, the ruse didn’t work and, in any case, when she emerged back into the public eye, her transformation was obvious.
Robert Tornambe, a plastic surgeon in NYC writing for the Huffington Post said that Gisele missed an opportunity to normalize plastic surgery. “Big deal,” he wrote “cosmetic surgery in her native Brazil is more common than getting a manicure.”
The documentary film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” which looked at the failures of the American public-school system, found that while Americans lagged behind all other developed countries in skills like math, our children were No. 1 in confidence. It’s exactly this cult of self-esteem that we promote from a young age that makes the plastic-surgery boom all the more perplexing.
We tell kids they’re amazing just the way they are, even when they’re not, yet they don’t just learn to accept the imperfect parts of themselves. Maybe if we were honest that no one is perfect, it would ease the concern kids feel as they become imperfect teenagers.
Or maybe the future is inflated lips and butts for everyone. Could go either way.