Sunday, February 8, 2015

Feminism and Cosmetic Surgery

The argument exists that women who undergo cosmetic surgery are just trying to become their "inner self." They don't feel as confident in their current body and so to better themselves, they decide to make a change. As Davis points out, "Women aren't dupes."They make a conscious decision to change their situation to become more confident in the life they lead. In the same way people change careers to realize their full potential or because they are unhappy with the trajectory of their lives, women supposedly get cosmetic surgery. Women can become depressed over concerns with their body. Either their body doesn't match how they picture themselves to be or they struggle with issues of confidence. But cosmetic surgery apparently has the ability to prevent the suffering of these women. 
Praying on the vulnerable? The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons  is calling for a six-point plan to tighten up regulation of the cowboy market in the UK

Many proponents of cosmetic surgery say feminism should support surgery given the above mentality. If a breast augmentation can make a woman happier, more confident, and empowered in her body, why shouldn't she have it done? Men can feel empowered in their bodies, so why not give women the opportunity as well? If it can prevent a woman from "suffering" then why should she be judged for partaking in this act? Cosmetic surgery advocates make the leap that feminism should support women in whatever they want to do.

But the argument by feminists isn't that a woman shouldn't be allowed to have cosmetic surgery, they are upset over the reasons why women feel it is necessary. If the argument is that women should have the surgery because it makes them less self conscious about their bodies, they argue why women should feel disproportionately concerned about their bodies. Why has the society created a stigma that women should look a certain way? One goal of many feminists is to weaken the association in women between appearance and confidence. 

In many testimonials after surgeries, women claim they made all the changes for themselves. "I'm more confident in my new body." "I'm much happier now." "I did this for myself." And I'm sure some of that is true. These women may in fact be 10 times happier with their surgical changes than they were before. But saying that changing an aspect of your appearance to one "more normal" makes you more confident is implying there was something wrong with the way you looked before, causing you to feel insecure. And that is what one portion of feminism is trying to fight. It was society's fault for overly scrutinizing the female body and implying it should look a certain way. So whatever feelings of depression and hate women feel toward their bodies Davis describes is merely an artifact of societal pressures, and parts of feminism attempt to remove those pressures. 

Now plastic surgery is starting to receive some backlash. Many feminist groups are becoming more vocal and the internet has made it easy to spread ideas quickly. But it's an arms race. While feminism has more opportunity to spread, so does the idea of how a perfect woman should look. Portrayals of women in the media enter our lives in countless ways each day and those images radiate in our minds. Cosmetic surgery is still growing in popularity, but people just don't freely admit to it. Cosmetic surgery is often perceived now as vapid and having surgery diminishes integrity. Think of how vehemently people, especially celebrities, deny having work done- It's because it makes them look shallow to care so much about their appearance. So some aspect of feminist ideas has permeated society. But strangely, this stigma about cosmetic surgery hasn't affected lives enough to stop women from getting surgeries. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeries, cosmetic procedures have risen 106% from 2000 to 2013 in women and just 22% in men. Who else is there to blame for this inequality but society?

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