Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cosmetic Surgery

In 2012 over 14 million people chose to have some form of cosmetic surgery, 91% of these surgeries were done on women.(1) I don't think most of us would come close to guessing which cosmetic surgery among women increased the most in 2012 so I'll just tell you -- upper arms.  "Upper arm lifts" increased from 300 in the year 2000 to 15,000 done in 2012, a 4378% increase.  This total pales in comparison to the 286,000 breast augmentation surgeries (down 7% from 2011) or the 243,000 nose reconstructions(2).  These statistics left me pondering the question -- what's with this huge necessity to pursue surgical alterations to one's body, most of them done financially out of pocket?

To be fair, it is not entirely about vanity.  Gastric bypass surgeries are becoming increasingly common and the resulting weight loss can leave lots of excessive skin on upper arms, thighs, and tummy's.  But, beyond these kinds of situations where most of us might choose, in essence, to remove the evidence of our unhealthy eating habits, one blogger pointed the blame at Michelle Obama and Jennifer Aniston who have very toned upper arms.  Apparently, the thinking goes that the women who set fashion trends cause those who don't have the bodies to pull off a particular look to go have themselves sculpted by a surgeon's knife to fit the look.  As an older male I am perhaps dull on this point, but I don't get it.  It leaves me a lot of questions which I'll just list below.  If anyone wants to pose answers or comments feel free to use the comment button... even more fun, spread the questions to your Facebook and see what your larger circle of friends think about it all.

  • Who is harder on your appearance -- you, your spouse/partner, your children, same gender friends, opposite gender friends, the masses you might see in public?
  • Just how strongly is your appearance tied to your self-esteem?
  • How strongly does your gender weigh in on how you look?  Do you use makeup, cosmetic surgery, exercise to make yourself look better for their sake or your own?
  • Why use artificial and even synthetic "fixes" (e.g. makeup, surgerical implants) when diet, exercise and supplements could work?
  • If God made you in God's own sacred image, does it bother you that you can't just be what God made you without ratcheting up the look for the social benefit of not being harassed about your appearance?
  • Do you feel harassed or bullied because of your physical imperfections?

(1) Medscape Medical News, "Reach of Upper Arm Lifts Growing Among US Women" April 30, 2013,

(2)  American Society of Plastic Surgeons, "2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report",

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