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Audrey Manning: Untitled

April 5, 2012

Audrey Manning

I recently saw a segment on ABC News about the increasing use of Botox in people under 30 years old. Much to my surprise, some statistics say this age group accounts for up to 30% of Botox users. According to dermatologists, the emerging Botox craze is being fueled by more and more women seeking to stall the aging process. In general, cosmetic procedures (surgical and nonsurgical) have been becoming increasingly commonplace over the last several years. Apparently, celebrities are not alone in their search for the fountain of youth.  Women are resorting to dermal fillers for wrinkles and thinning lips, Thermage to tighten skin, face lifts, eyelid lifts, microdermabrasion, chemical peels and much more to turn back the time… despite the cost. Upwards of several hundred dollars a procedure (most of which need to be repeated), it becomes concerning why so many women are suddenly resorting to such measures.

Flipping through any magazine or watching television for an hour, it becomes clear to anyone that American society reveres youth about as much as it does physical attractiveness and weight. It also becomes evident that age has an inverse relationship with beauty in our society – the years go up, your appeal goes down. This is especially true for women. Have you ever seen an anti-wrinkle cream commercial with a male sponsor? Even the dermatologist’s office is laden with pamphlets depicting only women; and if men are included, they are embracing their new, improved, and younger looking woman! Females are the main targets of such advertising because they have historically been subject to the social pressures of being on display and looking good. In addition to marketing diet pills, “Spanx” and liposuction to weight conscious women, capitalists are now taking advantage of their insecurity of growing old. At this point, it becomes obvious why cosmetic surgery has been on the rise. As advertising and social pressures increase and the price of procedures decrease (not to mention, financing is becoming more readily available), cosmetic surgery is becoming an appealing option for many American women.

Sadly, this dangerous message about superficial beauty is even being delivered to children. In an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim is shown receiving Botox. She was only 29 years old at the time. She is not alone; countless celebrities admit to using Botox, and many have even been quoted singing its praises. The popularity of injectables and plastic surgery in the celebrity world causes one to wonder how the younger generations are being affected. Some dermatologists say they have been observing a horrifying trend they refer to as “teen-toxing.” According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Botox was injected on 12,000 occasions in people ranging from ages 13 to 19 years old. Clearly, the positive, and even negative, publicity surrounding cosmetic surgery has taken its toll. Consider celebs like Heidi Montag, JWoww from Jersey Shore, Lindsay Lohan and other young women who have recently been in the media for controversy over what procedure they have had done – these are children’s role models. Whether it’s a smoother forehead, plumper lips, a straighter nose, bigger breasts or smaller thighs, young girls are being given the idea that they can purchase the self-confidence they want. They are being taught that they need to permanently alter and literally invest in their faces and bodies to fit our patriarchal society’s ideal image of a woman.

Looking good seems to be a paradox for women, however.  Feminist authors Katie Milestone and Anneke Meyer explain, “…‘natural’ beauty is proclaimed the ideal and what men want. Girls are told to self-improve, but in moderation, to achieve a ‘natural’ look…” (Milestone & Meyer, 94) This creates an extremely narrow and practically impossible ideal. Furthermore, going as far as cosmetic procedures seems contradictory to “natural” beauty. No wonder so many people deny having plastic surgery when they really have had it; they feel that they would be imperfect. That being said, it seems as though the root of the problem lies not in cosmetic surgery but in our ideals. Cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery are not inherently bad.  But the normalization of cosmetic and plastic surgery is a red flag for a much larger issue. Our patriarchal society is perpetuating an unhealthy, unfair, and unachievable ideal of beauty for women. As the recent Botox epidemic demonstrates, these ideals are destroying young girls’ and women’s self-esteem and body image.

 

Bibliography

Milestone, Katie, and Anneke Meyer. Gender & Popular Culture. Cambridge: Polity, 2012. Print.

“Preventative Aging”: Botox in Your 20s? Abcnews.go.com. ABC News, 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/preventive-aging-botox-20s-15918008&gt;.

Saint Louis, Catherine. “Skin Deep – This Wrinkle-Free Teenage Girl Uses Botox. No, She’s Not Alone.” NYTimes.com. New York Times, 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

 

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One Comment
  1. Audrey Manning permalink

    I’m with the Tagalongs! Sorry, I forgot to put that!

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