Normalization of Cosmetic Surgery: Essay Example

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Normalization of Cosmetic Surgery:

How it is important to take a stand against the increasing normalization of cosmetic surgery in late capitalism


Cosmetic surgery has been discussed by several feminist with an emphasis on how the practice took its roots in the late capitalism. Its popularity and acceptance were very evident especially in the United States with a tremendous increase of the about 293% between 1997 and 2003 alone. It has, for a long time, been almost impossible to avoid the cosmetic procedures advertisements deluge on radios and televisions (Doyle & Karl, 2008). The advertisements are also common on the cosmetic surgery based reality shows. The surgery isn’t entirely new because it has existed in Europe and the U.S since the mid-twentieth century. By then, its main focus was to reconstruct the bodies that had been ravaged by war. The plastic surgery was very normal then, and there wasn’t any critique because the surgery was only reserved for the soldier that obtained injuries while at war. Over the past 30 years, the cosmetic surgeries in America alone have been a commercial business that is booming with women having maximum utilized it. The surgery was therefore very normal and ethical during those times. Cosmetic surgery involves a lot of procedures that range from Botox and laser hair removal to procedures that are more invasive such as face-lifts, and breast augmentations. The procedures that are most common for women include breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery and breast reduction. For purposes of clarifications, reconstructive surgeries (Okopny, 2005)


The practice of cosmetic surgery has been fully embraced and accepted by several cultures. There has never been, however, a clear accompanying examination that strives to establish why most women focus in mutilating themselves. Several feminists have argued that to associate cosmetic surgery and mutilation is harsh and extreme to some extent. However, the whole process of reshaping and cutting one’s body based on aesthetic rationale justifies mutilation. The cosmetic surgery is, therefore, a type of mutilation in that the procedures either erase or mutilate the original body parts that several cases, never failed. The changes are made solely based aesthetic reasons. The aesthetic procedure that does away with a trait within a body so as to acquire body parts that are more culturally appropriate that represents a beauty ideal depicts a body mutilation (Coleman, 2006).

In the late capitalism, the rates of plastic surgery significantly increased in spite of the risks that are involved physically. The tendency of the media to celebrate and embrace the cosmetic surgery enables a person to distance his or herself from the real risk and mechanics that are involved in the procedures of cosmetic. Dr. Fugh-Berman Adrianne wrote an article where she argued that every culture contains different codes of rules or codes that offer guidance to societies and at the same time dictating appropriate behaviour. Contemporary in the US for instance, large breasts are seen as more sexy and attractive. Research also indicates that a man in America is likely to prefer breasts that are larger than those a lady is likely to want. Fugh-Berman states that women from France, in contrast to those in America who practice cosmetic surgeries prefer to reduce the sizes of their breasts and not enlarging them. Fugh-Berman notes the preferences of the individual persons when it comes to the cosmetic surgery preferences. She noted that in China for instance, there are very many short people and tallness is therefore valued. People there will hence prefer to have lengthened legs so as to be taller. The legs are broken surgically and then joined with racks that help in starching the leg bones so as to create new growth of the bones. As much as people strive to normalize the cosmetic surgery, the entire process could be very painful. Increasing the legs for instance is very painful in that a patient has to endure a lot tightening of racks so as to stimulate the growth. The process as well end up deforming or making the victim disabled (Clark, 2014).

The women’s magazine has significant contributions towards the cosmetic surgery normalization over time. The magazines of women have been criticised for their contributions to manipulating women to come up with ideal bodies (Clark, 2014). They also promote the idea that ideal bodies can be purchased through the consumption of the products of beauty. The magazines have also carried the message that any lady can enhance his or her beauty by taking proper care off the body. This means that they are expected to wear clothing that are fashionable, use cosmetic products, know the flaws of the body, and making instant corrections. The cosmetic surgery proliferation didn’t come into place overnight. There were a lot of pressure and social forces that pushed for the shift from the medical operation all the way to the cosmetic products (Davis, 1995).

According to Cressida (2007), it is very fundamental to study the magazines of women during the late capitalism period because of a number of reasons. Firstly, very popular procedures of plastic surgery together with marketing techniques that are very vital got introduced between 1980s and 1960s. The introduction of Silicon for instance occurred in in 1962. It significantly contributed to the establishment of plastic surgery that was modern. Liposuction for instance was introduced in the year 1982 while in the 80s the ASPS (American Society of plastic surgery). The supreme court of the US as a result approved the advertisements of the procedures in 982. As much as it is not easy to establish the number of people who had performed the liposuction and the augmentation procedures before 1980, the ranking of the two surgeries has been very high ever since 1980. Finally, the late capitalism period was very fundamental in helping establishment of the current beauty norms for the procedures. Therefore the years ranging from 1960 to 1980 are era that the phenomenon of the cosmetic surgery began diffusing and incubating (Cressida, 2007).

Critical studies indicated that the bodies of women are pathologized and objectified in patriarchal society. There have been debates that the feminist scholars have had in line with the role of the cosmetic surgery in omen oppression. Many scholars, after considering the pleasure that a woman receive after beautifying their bodies and therefore held that the women should be given a free will of choice. The society is therefore not expected to be harsh on the women whatsoever when they perform the cosmetic surgeries because the women do so to feel contented with their bodies. The scholars have respected the psychological happiness and pleasure that comes along with cosmetic surgery. They also focus on the economic achievement obtained by women after performing the surgeries and as a result suggesting that the agency of women should make decisions concerning their bodies as well as the happy psyches. The cosmetic surgery could a woman in line with expressing agency and self-improvement (Virginia, 2003).

The main agent of normalizing the cosmetic surgery is the media. It has done so by presenting perfection in relation to the cosmetic surgery promotional messages. The consistency of the media in advocating for cosmetic surgery is very clear. The media has repeatedly and consistently presented body images that are very unrealistic that affect the view of people of what an ideal made is made up of. The media presents very ideal bodies for celebrities and Hollywood stars construct the beauty norms contemporarily. Such presentations by the media therefore compel people to embrace the negative consequences like for instance, anxiety, eating disorders and dissatisfaction. The media, according to scholars, also influence the breast satisfaction of the women by either directly or indirectly presenting the images for an ideal body. Several women have felt like they have what it takes to attain the breast sizes that are ideal if only they have the time and money. The media has increasingly covered cosmetic surgery hence playing a very fundamental role in ensuring that the cosmetic surgery has been normalized.

The media has normalized and glamorized the surgery through the coverings it has made on the bodies of celebrities as well as the ordinary cosmetic surgery experiences of women so as to attain a very ideal body. The media has manipulated the women by making them very certain that they need the help of the cosmetic procedures. Covering the positive surgery experiences and procedures of the ordinary women via the women’s magazines has to a great extent promoted and legitimized the cosmetic surgery use. The cosmetic surgery presentations in the reality shows have completely justified and normalized the cosmetic surgery through literally presenting the operational procedures as well as the emphasis it makes in its benefits. The reality shows however neglect to inform the people who are viewing the cosmetic surgical procedures risks and severe side effects (Carter, 1995). The role of the media in normalization of the cosmetic surgery is therefore evidently threefold. The first element is constructing an ideal body. The second element is the promotional rhetoric cosmetic surgery with an emphasis on surgical transformation effectiveness. Lastly, it links the physical appearance of women with self-improvement. Such much a lot of studies indicate that the media has tremendously contributed to the normalization of the cosmetic procedures, some other scholars hold that the magazines of women have as well contributed fundamentally towards the same (Clark, 2014).

The importance of taking a stand against the increasing normalization of cosmetic surgery

As much as the media and the magazines are striving to normalize the cosmetic surgeries, it is very important for the society to stand completely against the procedures. It should be so judging from the severe side effects that the cosmetic operations have had against women. The feminist in the late stage of capitalism, on the other hand, do not approve of the society standing against the normalization of the cosmetic procedures. They argue that the society is being patriarchy and dominating on the women. The scholars hold that the women have been made submissive in the society being denied the fundamental freewill of choice. Nevertheless, it is fundamental to fight the normalization of the cosmetic practices because of the negative consequences that come along with it. As indicated above, some cosmetic procedures are very painful and may be health hazards that endanger lives. For instance, in China where people value height very much, the cosmetic procedures meant to improve height could be very harming. To start with, the entire process is very painful, and experts indicate that the procedure may lead to deformations because it involves the breaking of bones and then later boosting them to much whichever Heights (Virginia, 2003).

It is very important to stand against normalizing any cosmetic procedures because there are effects that the surgery recipients risk experiencing. In fact, there is no one who can give assurance that a surgical procedure is always going to be perfectly successful each it is done. Even if the procedures are done successfully, the good appearance may tend to change. This is because the appearance is not a permanent natural feature. There have been a lot of cases of cosmetic surgery procedures backfires. When the “good look” starts to wear out, the victim is exposed to a lot of emotional and psychological stress. According to research, the rates of suicide in the patients of plastic surgery are relatively high; they are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than a normal person. The reasons for such kinds of suicides are that the victims tend to hold expectations that are very unrealistic, and they get very shocked when their expectations are not fully met. Some young person may also want to appear like a star he or she saw in the media and hence undergoing the cosmetic procedure without hesitating. However, he or she may get very disappointed when they change their look but still looking different from the star (Doyle & Karl, 2008).

The families of the victims are affected in a great way. To start with, the family suffers when a child fails to appreciate his or her appearance and opt to look “better”. A child is most likely to inherit his or her appearance from the parents. When a child is therefore not proud of how he or she appears, it affects the family’s esteem and happiness. Some children hold that they cannot find a good job because of how they appear, maybe due to the type of job or the racism in the societies they live. The parents are hence forced to perform them the surgeries. The families, however, suffer financially because performing the surgical procedures is very expensive. It is very fundamental to stand against the cosmetic procedures as a society. This is because there are negative consequences that the society faces. When more people tend to compare how they appear, they tend to think that they are abler to change whatever they are in need of; this is very common with students. It is very unfortunate that students concentrate on own they appear at the expense of what they are supposed to study as much as the first impression is key in job hunting (Davis, 1995).


In conclusion, it is very unfortunate that people are very concerned with how “good” other people appear and hence forgetting to appreciate their beauty. Proness to the cosmetic surgeries goes done to the psychological mindset of people. People tend to think that they appear less attractive than others. They, therefore, tend to perform the cosmetic procedures to boost their appearance. People should appreciate how God made them because each person is fearfully and wonderfully made. The feminist should appreciate the society for standing against the cosmetic procedures. They should stop viewing the society as patriarchal and as having targeted them.

List of References

Carter, P.,1995, Feminism, breasts, and breast feeding.: St. Martin’s Press, New York.

Clark, N., 2014, The Normalization of Cosmetic Surgery in Women’s Magazines from 1960 to 1989. Journal of Magazine & New Media Research Vol. 15, No. 1 Spring 2014, 1-22.

Coleman, S., 2006, A defence of cosmetic surgery in Cutting to the core:. exploring the, pp. 1-87.

Cressida, H., 2007, Somaesthetics for the Normalized Body. In Self transformations: Foucault, ethics, and normalized bodies Oxford . New York: Oxford University press.

Davis, K., 1995, Reshaping the female body: the dilemma of cosmetic surgery. Routledge New York.

Doyle, J., & Karl, I., 2008, Shame on You: Cosmetic Surgery and Class Transformation in 10 Years Younger‟. In Exposing lifestyle television: the big reveal, edited by Gareth PalmerAldershot England, pp. 1-97.

Okopny, C., 2005, Reconstructing women’s identities: The phenomenon of cosmetic surgery in the United states, Department of Women’s Studies College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida, pp. 1-62.

Virginia, B., 2003, Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery, University of California Press, Carlifonia.