| By Paige McGowan
Social media is changing the way we see ourself(ies).
From filters to photo editing and ultimately plastic and cosmetic surgery, social media is prompting people to put their best face, or body, forward. Celebrities have long been the vanguard when it comes to getting plastic or cosmetic surgery in order to stay relevant in Hollywood. Today, it’s much easier to be discovered and become famously wealthy through social media apps without even leaving your home.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social networks play key roles in most of North American’s daily routines, including dictating the way we should look. And thanks to this abundance of free apps, selfie-holics now have the power to alter their bodies in pictures in a way that is right up there with makeup and other beauty product ads.
“I’m on Instagram and I’m looking and I’m scrolling and it drives me insane and I drive myself crazy trying to look like these girls and I can’t,” said famous Canadian YouTuber Karlee Steel in a YouTube video. Karlee underwent liposuction, breast augmentation, and a Brazilian butt lift all at the age of 20.
According to a report by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), “in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was generally celebrities who pushed the plastic surgery industry.
Then in the 2000s, there was a significant cultural shift toward reality television, creating an entirely new generation of “stars.” Today, social media is pushing the plastic surgery business forward.”
“SOCIAL MEDIA IS ABSOLUTELY AFFECTING THE WAY PEOPLE SEE THEMSELVES. THEY SEE EDITED VERSIONS OF LIVES ON INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK AND ASPIRE TO LOOK AND LIVE THE SAME WAY”– Rochelle Manguino, who underwent a rhinoplasty at age 16.
Social media has let anyone enter the beauty pageant – cover up pimples, whiten teeth and even airbrush with the swipe of a finger, changing the image to become prettier, thinner and hotter. Social media has become a toxic mirror.
“There is so much involved in the celebrity world to keep them having a certain aesthetic that is not attainable for someone who has a moderate income,” said Shelby Travers, who had lip fillers and Botox done in October 2018. “There are ways of doing it so that it’s not overdone and it looks natural. The problem with this comes when you are not candid about what procedures you’ve had done so it leads to this unattainable experience that people think that they can have.”
“Social media is absolutely affecting the way people see themselves,” said Rochelle Manguino, who underwent a rhinoplasty at age 16. “They see edited versions of lives on Instagram and Facebook and aspire to look and live the same way.”
“Social media has played a role in the way I look. I use Facebook strictly for business, and understand that to effectively monetize my work I need to look and act in a way that attracts an audience. It sounds superficial, but that’s the world we live in,” she said.
Many people just want to fit in with the current trends and feel that, if they do not, they look for immediate gratification with plastic surgery becoming their medium.
“I have definitely noticed a trend in what body is considered beautiful, and I think that’s what is really sad,” said Travers. “The [recent trends] have been people getting their hips and their butts done. Getting boob jobs and having bigger lips is a thing now too. As far as the body goes the trend is to have an extreme hourglass figure.”
Considering how these specific features are praised online – whether they are naturally given to you at birth or made in a doctor’s office – many people are inspired to consider pursuing plastic surgery more adamantly than they would have in the past.
“It would be naive of me to say that social media hasn’t affected me wanting to change the way I look,” said Travers. “It’s human nature to follow what is rewarded.”
And, with cameras everywhere, trying
to disappear into the background becomes
“Social media has driven almost everything,” said renowned American plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Nassif in an interview with Valuetainment. “There is more of an acceptance of having plastic surgery. It’s grown, especially with men.”
What was once considered scandalous is now considered mainstream.
In fact, the number of annual cosmetic procedures continues to rise among the millennial population. Since 2000, overall procedures have risen 115 per cent, but the types of procedures patients are choosing are ever changing. In fact, new data released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) showed that 2015 was the “year for the rear”, as procedures focusing on the derriere dominated surgical growth. Buttock implants were the fastest growing type of cosmetic surgery in 2015, and overall on average, there was a buttock procedure every 30 minutes of every day.
“It’s so common now that people think it’s real,” said Steel. “Yes, it’s natural fat but it’s not naturally where she was born with it and I think it’s making girls so insecure, including myself.”
“The people’s style or what they want keeps changing, with fluctuation of plastic surgery of what it should look like and our biggest thing now is natural,” said Nassif. “We are trying to do more non-invasive procedures and good skin care products to make you not age as much, rather than needing surgery or heavy-duty lasers.”
A study by Adrian Furnham and James Levitas of the University College of London, showing factors motivating people to have cosmetic surgery had a sample of 204 participants complete a questionnaire that assessed their attitude toward cosmetic surgery it also measured their self-esteem, life satisfaction, self-rated physical attractiveness, religiosity and media consumption. The findings showed that women who rated their self-esteem, life satisfaction, and attractiveness as low, had few religious beliefs and had high media exposure, were more likely to undergo cosmetic surgery.
The report by ISAPS says: “More traditional social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, have given plastic surgery practices all over the world incredible access to marketing tools that simply didn’t exist even a decade ago. Now, surgeons can target specific audiences with their social media ads, reaching the patients that they want.”
For example, Dr. Ashkan Ghavami specializes in rhinoplasties and breast augmentations. He posts almost daily on Instagram and Snapchat, showcasing the work he’s done in photos and videos. Not only are plastic surgeons taking advantage of the many benefits social media has to offer to increase their bottom line, they are feeding into the “instant” part of social media which breeds impatience with some clients, as they may expect their results to happen immediately.
“Since there’s been a huge rise in doing aesthetic procedures in the last 19 years everything has increased, the good, the bad, the ugly, everything,” said Nassif.
So where do we go from here? Honestly, who knows! It doesn’t look like social media is going away. As more and more plastic surgeons flock to social media to peddle their skills, social media will continue to change the way we view ourselves.
Perhaps the answer lies within. Maybe it’s time to get back to our roots, embracing ourselves for who we are and not what we look like. Easier said than done!