Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Cosmetic Surgery: Beautifier or Beast Maker?

It’s ironic, really, how the programmes which are deemed suitable to be aired before the watershed often result in the most potential controversy. Perhaps it’s because we’ve come to associate daytime television with recipes for cheesecake and ex Big Brother contestants scoping out holiday destinations – As we prepare to be awash in a sea of bland non-offensiveness, suddenly someone chucks in a shark.

Today’s ‘ouch’ moment came, perhaps less surprisingly, courtesy of Katie Price, who declared in her usual brash and flippant manner that everyone, absolutely EVERYONE has had botox. With a little bit of creative interpretation, I managed to decipher that she was referring to her celebrity peers, emphasising that at least she is up front (as it were) about it. I’m actually with Pricey on this one – There should be some sort of law which compels celebs to be honest about the ‘work’ they have had done, just as there should be a whacking great sticker slapped across most ads, billboards and music videos stating ‘AIRBRUSHED’. (Interestingly Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone said as much in a recent interview in the Times so perhaps this might become a reality, although it might take some persuading for the Tories to confess the extent to which their recent election campaign bore the signs of digital enhancement).

However, this disclaimer in place, Katie’s statement was more than a tad idiotic and potentially damaging. In fact, NOT ‘everyone’ has had botox. I, for one, fail to see the attraction of allowing someone without any formal medical qualifications to come anywhere near my face with a syringe full of poison. Perpetuating the idea that most people have had the procedure done suggests that you are somehow at a disadvantage if you abstain from this latest fad.

Coincidentally, not 12 hours beforehand I was discussing the thorny issue of cosmetic surgery with Sherryl Blu on Bang Radio, following everyone’s sudden, inexplicable simultaneous realisation that perhaps Kim Kardashian might have had a bit of facial reconstruction (you don’t say).

The increasing availability of cheap cosmetic surgery is something that worries me on a sociological level, and not just because in the year 3,000 I foresee a strange and plastic land where we all look like identikit Barbie hybrids. Shudder. It concerns me because we appear fear too quick to jump to the conclusion that a boob job, liposuction or whatever will magically solve our self-esteem issues.

I was shocked when I took my body confidence campaign to schools and learned that 14 year olds (who have little idea what their fully developed shape will turn out to be) were already saving for their first cosmetic procedure. Long gone are those innocent times when a makeover meant a trip to Boots for some sparkly rimmel lipgloss.

The very existence of the possibility of having surgery, coupled with the ever growing myth that ‘everyone’ is doing it, simply puts increasingly aggressive pressure on every day people to reach the giddy heights of some fabricated ideal of perfection. In the 1950s, the average woman knew she was never going to look like Marylin Monroe. My Nan would have positively scoffed at anything more self-indulgent than a touch of pressed powder and a dash of lippy. Yet she still knew she was beautiful, (as did my Granddad). Yet, as the possibility of emulating our celeb counterparts becomes more and more real, so our collective self-esteem plummets. Coincidence? I think not.

A great honking pair of huge melon-like breasts may be visually arresting and they may attract some superficial type attention, but I can guarantee they’ll prove a fruitless sticking-plaster, vainly attempting to hold together the vast chasm that is low self-worth. The thousands of pounds we are pouring into changing our bodies would be much better spent on changing our minds and appreciating ourselves just the way we are.

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