Friday, July 5, 2013

Explorations of American Ideals and Plastic Surgery - Part 1

Americans have come to value particular ideals about the way a person, especially a woman, should look. Every culture has its own ideals, but the American views are unique in how they have been transmitted; through magazines, television, and the Internet, Americans see more instances of these idealized images than the typical citizen of almost any other nation. Plastic surgeries are one of the "answers" people look to in order to try to make themselves fit these ideals.

People get cosmetic surgeries for many different reasons. Some include psychological reasons, professional and social reasons, and health or quality of life reasons. Examples of each of these, respectively, would be someone who has a surgery to increase self-esteem or decrease self-consciousness, someone who has a surgery to advance his career or social status, and finally someone who has surgery to improve vision or remove fat that’s causing a strain on the body’s structure and heart. In the episodes of the Tyra Bank shows I have watched, most of the women were undergoing plastic surgeries in order to advance social status, or increase perceived self-image or self-esteem. For example, one woman wanted to change the size of her breasts, and another the size of her buttocks.

The following are possible risks for nearly any type of plastic surgery: infection, excessive or unexpected bleeding (hemorrhage or hematoma), blood clots, tissue death, delayed healing, anesthesia risks (including shock, respiratory failure, drug or allergic reactions, cardiac arrest, coma, death), increased risk of pneumonia, loss or change of sensation, need for secondary surgeries, dissatisfaction with results, and even paralysis or some type of less severe nerve damage.

Several women on the show reported infections, loss of sight, loss of sensation, the need of corrective (secondary) surgeries, and all the women on this show reported dissatisfaction, as all the surgeries were instances where something had "gone wrong."

One episode of Tyra Bank's show was entitled, "Black Market Plastic Surgery." Several women were interviewed about what they had done, and why. One woman reported having woken up one day and decided she wanted a new look, but nothing like a haircut - she wanted something permanent. So she "researched" on Google and found a place in Panama that offered permanent eye color changing, which would involve surgery on the iris, replacing the current tissue with tissue from another eye. Despite the unsanitary conditions and informalness of the doctor, the woman went through with the procedure and now has permanent damage to her eyes that may result in blindness in her near future. Her desire to make a permanent change to herself masked all common-sense judgment. While an extreme case, it shows that there are dangers in being obsessed with trying to obtain perfection or unique unnatural beauty.

In light of all of this, I would like to go to a slightly deeper area... in part 2.

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