Dangerous Obsession With Beauty

By:Rebecca Anderson
Dangerous Obsession with Beauty: Addiction to Cosmetic Enhancement
Youth, beauty, and the perfect body are plastered in every magazine and on every billboard. One cannot flip through the television channels without being bombarded by appearance driven shows. The media highlights and stimulates this fixation, and it provides an easy answer to any self esteem or body issue, cosmetic surgery. Fictional character Kimber Henry, of hit drama Nip/Tuck, is the epitome of skin deep beauty and the cosmetic cure. She undergoes multiple procedures to be accepted and to improve her life. Society’s obsession with beauty is leading to a dangerous addiction to cosmetic surgery.

A fascination with appearance is initially instilled at a shockingly young age. Typically, more attractive children are favored in the classroom and at home. Media and celebrities also hold an overwhelming power over what image is viewed as beautiful, popular, and successful. Society is centered on the principle that only youth is bestowed privilege and is connected with autonomy, productivity, and active sexuality (Jones, 2004). Looks are also used to climb the career ladder faster and to receive better pay. A recent poll discovered that just one in four people find themselves attractive (Mac Pherson, 2005). This deficiency in self worth creates a problem that leads to extreme actions. This same study found that eighty-seven percent of people would change a part of themselves if they could (Mac Pherson, 2005). The radical change in appearance that is increasingly resorted to is cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgery has become the absolute answer to an unrelenting quest for beauty. It is a surgery that modifies or improves the appearance of a physical feature, irregularity, or defect. Procedures range from tummy tucks to eyelid reshaping and from buttocks implants to an entirely new nose. Cosmetic surgery has become so advanced that surgeons can reshape the patient’s bone. This changes the underlying structure and results in an entirely new face. At first glance these procedures would seem like miracles for those hoping to gain self esteem. But the risks and complications are innumerable: swelling, bruising, scarring, infection, permanent numbness, or even death. The painful weeks of rehabilitation and recovery are conveniently hidden by glamorous cosmetic outcomes. In addition, the list of risks nearly triples if the surgeon has had no training in the cosmetic field. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery warns that “state laws permit any licensed physician to call him – or herself a ‘plastic’ or ‘cosmetic’ surgeon –even if he or she has not been trained as a plastic surgeon or has had no surgical training at all” (ASAPS).

Despite the long and hazardous record of side effects, complications, and risks, cosmetic surgery has become a communal addiction. To meet appearance standards, this craze of “body shopping” leads some girls to choose breast implants over a car as a graduation gift from their parents (Blum, 2005). This fact alone is proof that even the young are struggling under the burden of beauty. Allowing cosmetic surgeries at this young age has experts believing that an addiction could arise (Tannen, 2005). One form of this addiction is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a psychiatric disorder dealing with body image. Subjects with BDD demonstrate excessive distress with a minute defect that they believe requires cosmetic surgery (Glaser, 2005). Those with BDD often undergo multiple procedures with little satisfaction. Many surgeons claim to turn away those clients who suffer BDD or appear to have unrealistic expectations. Still others find it hard to believe that all surgeons actually turn down the cash of a potential surgery or are even mindful of the patient’s mental stability. Even those not diagnosed with BDD, are still under the spell that beauty is everything. This causes many to surrender their better judgments and take huge gambles. The obsession with one’s exterior and the indifference to potential danger is the source of an addiction to cosmetic surgery.

Beauty from a knife is a choice that many cannot steer away from, including Nip/Tuck’s Kimber Henry. Before she had her first operation, she was stunning. The fact that she was already beautiful reinforces the clutch beauty and cosmetic surgery has. Kimber may be fictional, but her character represents many who are addicted to outward show. These people impose cosmetic surgery on themselves, oblivious to the fact that they are fine and surgery is unnecessary. Kimber symbolizes every person that has become so blinded by appearance that they are willing to expose themselves to serious risks and dangers that are unwarranted. Never being satisfied with appearances will only leave one unhappy and financially strained. The future well being of society is threatened by this addiction to cosmetic surgery.

Works Cited
Blum, V. (2005). Becoming the Other Woman. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 26(2), 104-131.
America Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Credentials: Training and Certification of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved January, 12 2008, from http://surgery.org/public/safety/
Glaser, D.A. (2005). Body Dysmorphic Disorder and the Liposuction Patient.
Dermatologic Surgery, 31(5), 559-561.
Jones, M. (2004). Mutton Cut up as Lamb: Mothers, Daughters, and Cosmetic Surgery. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 18(4), 525-539.
Mac Pherson, S. (2005). Self-Esteem and Cosmetic Enhancement.
Plastic Surgical Nursing, 25 (1), 5-20.
Tannen, M. (2005). Botox Babies. New York Times Magazine, 154, 200-202.

Thesis: 20/20
Organization: 18/20 Comments:Some paragraphs need better internal transitions, minor rearrangements in sentence order.
Evidence: 20/20
Clarity of Writing: 17/20 Comments: some confusing word choices
Style: 19/20 Comments: last sentence off

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