Modern media affects and drives trends in our culture more than we like to admit. What happens when the media blitz type promotion of cultural icons becomes a main influence for our generation, as well as younger generations? In the case of young women, advertisements have created a stereotypical image that exerts a social expectation that pressures women to strive for perfection, not in mind or sprit, but in body. This pressure and expectation has made the number of plastic surgery in women 18 years old and younger sky rocket. While the number of plastic surgery in women 18 and younger is increasing, their self-esteem is plummeting at unbelievable rates.
“Since 1997, there has been over 155% increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures. Surgical procedures increased by more than 71%, and nonsurgical procedures increased by 228%. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s statistics, nearly 219,000 cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed on people age 13-19 in 2010.” Among the most common plastic surgeries in young women are rhinoplasty and breast augmentation. Rhinoplasty, or nose reshaping, is usually not performed until the nose reaches its full adult size, which is around 15-16 years old in women. In 2010, The American Society of Plastic Surgery, or the ASPS, reported that 35,000 rhinoplasty procedures were performed on patients with in the 13-19 year old age group. Rhinoplasty is definitely the most popular surgery with in the 13-19 year old age group. It accounts for almost 50 percent of all cosmetic procedures performed on 13-19 year olds.
Another very common surgery is breast augmentation. According to the FDA, or the Food and Drug Administration, saline-filled breast implants may be used in women 18 years old, or older, while silicone breast implants are only allowed to be used in women 22 years old, or older. “Many teenagers who want breast augmentation have one breast that is larger than the other – sometimes a full cup size or more in difference. This condition is called breast asymmetry. Using a saline-filled implant in the smaller breast allows the patient to have breasts of the same size. Although waiting may prolong the physical awkwardness, it is advisable to delay surgery until breast growth ceases in order to achieve the best result. More than 8,500 breast augmentations were performed on 18-19 year olds in 2010, up 3 percent from 2009.”
This is a video on the media’s involvement in teen plastic surgery :
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Why are these statistics so shockingly high?
There was a time when the “ideal” body weight, size and measurements women wanted to emulate and aspire to look like, and men drooled over, was that of famous celebrities, like Marilyn Monroe, with her voluptuous, hourglass figure and curvy shape. Today, the media bombards us, as well as younger generations, with airbrushed pictures and images of models and celebrities who are too skinny and look more like wire hangers than human beings.
In 2009, The New York Post published their “50 Fat Celebrities” list in People magazine. The magazine dubbed Jessica Simpson, whom was only a size 4 at the time, “Jumbo Jessica.” In the same year, German clothing designer, Wolfgang Joop, told German magazines that Victoria’s Secret Angel, Heidi Klum, was too fat for the runway. He stated, “She is no runway model! Heidi Klum is simply too heavy and has too big a bust. And she always grins so stupidly. That is not avant-garde – that is commercial!” Heidi Klum is 5’9 and weighs 120 pounds. No wonder our view of society is so distorted. If the gorgeous, SKINNY, well-known, Victoria’s Secret Angel Heidi Klum can’t live up to society’s standards, I wonder what society thinks of normal, everyday women?
The first and last picture are the pictures Jessica Simpson was being criticized for. The middle picture is of her after months of training for her star role in Dukes of Hazard:
After Heidi Klum being bashed by Wolfgang Joop, all of the other Victoria’s Secrets model’s did not want to be the butt of any designer’s jokes or criticism, and with the 2011 annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show quickly approaching, the pressure was on. Victoria’s Secret Angel, Adrianna Lima, revealed her diet secrets for the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Lima feels that the pressure to look perfect for the fashion show pushes her to work out and diet even harder than she normally would. “The 30-year-old model has been working out with a personal trainer every day since the beginning of August. Adriana jumps rope, boxes and lifts weights… and as of three weeks ago, she’s been doing it twice a day.” Adriana’s pre-Victoria’s Secret show diet consists of: “seeing a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes – ‘no solids’. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and ‘just drink normally’. Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely.” Adriana justifies her no liquids for 12 hours by stating, “No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that.”
In early 2011, another starlet was being bashed in the media for having “a Jay Leno chin.” Because of the media continuously bashing her, Heidi Montag, a star of the MTV hit show Laguna Beach went under the knife for 10 procedures in ONE surgery. The surgery lasted 10+ hours. The 10 procedures performed were as follows: botox in her cheeks and forehead, nose job revision, mini brow lift, chin reduction, fat taken from her thighs were injected into her cheeks and lip , breast augmentation revision (DDD’s!!), liposuction on waist and thighs, ears pinned back, buttocks augmentation, and neck liposuction. Heidi claimed people in Hollywood would say she had a “Jay Leno chin” and she felt like she couldn’t smile at red carpet events in fear that the media would write up horrible stories about her “crimson chin” the following day. Post-surgery, Heidi did not let camera crews, family, friends, or reporters anywhere near her home for eight weeks. When she finally agreed to show her new face/body, Heidi told reporters she felt very plastic and could only talk quietly because her jaw was still so sore from the shaving that was performed on it. Heidi is only 23 years old and has already once had a breast augmentation, as well as a nose job, prior to the recent 10 procedures. What message is this sending to all of her fans? Run and get plastic surgery to fix all of your problems? Heidi is sending a horrible message. She makes it seem as if these procedures were a back lash at anyone who has ever made fun of, or ridiculed her in the past. Plastic surgery should not be used or viewed as a tool of revenge. (Source can be viewed here.)
This is an interview of Heidi Montag Post-Surgery:
This is Heidi before and after her surgeries:
Today, it’s not only advertisements and celebrities that are promoting and glamourizing plastic surgery, but television shows are also on board. Bridalplasty, a television show appearing on the E! network in 2010, features a reality show of 12 brides competing against each other to win a plastic surgery procedure of their choice. “The brides will compete against each other by writing vows and planning honeymoons, and each week one of them will win ‘one piece of her dream body.’ The last bride gets the full treatment – every procedure on her wish list. Plastics surgeons say it’s not uncommon for brides to get touch-ups before their nuptials. But several have weighed in with strong criticisms that the show is playing on the idea that women need to be perfect in life and on their wedding day.” Shows such as Bridalplasty teach young women and children that they should be rewarded for big accomplishments by going under the knife and perfecting themselves.
This video shows Bridalplasty’s commercial, as well as a surgeon’s view on the subject from FOX:
What messages are these stories sending to the younger generations?
The previous stories of Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, Heidi Montag, and Bridalplasty all play a major factor in plastic surgery statistics in young women. Heidi Klum was bashed for being too heavy for the runway while Heidi Montag and Lima lived in fear of not looking perfect enough and being criticized by the media. Proof that celebrity’s insecurities influence young women to go under the knife lie in the stories of 12 year old Brooke Bates and 8 year old Brittney Campbell.
In 2006, Brooke Bates underwent liposuction and a tummy tuck because she was being bullied in school for being heavier than all of her other class mates. After much debate, her parents finally let her have the surgery, but that wasn’t enough. Brooke was only 12-years-old when she went under the knife, making her the youngest girl in the world to ever get liposuction and a tummy tuck. Brooke had always dreamed of looking like a Barbie, similar to the look Heidi Montag was trying to achieve. Unable to control her eating habits, Brooke put back on all the weight the surgery had removed. At the age of 13, Brooke was fitted for a gastric band. At the age of 15 she had liposuction again to remove extra fat from her arms and legs and also opted for breast implants, making her size A cup breasts a full DD. She justified the implants by saying her breasts looked saggy from losing so much weight. Brooke’s parents fully paid for all of her surgeries and supported her decision to have every single surgery done. Now, at 17-years-old, Brooke has not had any more surgeries to date, but her parents have given her an extra £11,000,which converts to $17,168.84 U.S. dollar, to spend on keeping up her appearance. Brooke’s friends have dubbed her “Barbie Brooke,” so she feels that she needs this money to maintain her bleach blonde hair once a month, her nails, new makeup, and daily trips to the tanning salon. (Source can be viewed here)
This is a video of Brooke speaking about her plastic surgery as well as CNN commenting on the issue:
In March 2011, Brittney Campbell received botox treatments. Usually this wouldn’t be considered a big procedure, but shockingly enough, Brittney Campbell is only 8-YEARS-OLD! Mother Kerry Campbell, was investigated by the state of California for allegedly injecting her 8 year old daughter, Brittney, (that’s right, 8, as in EIGHT YEARS OLD!) with botox to prevent wrinkles and make her daughter a star in the intense world of pageantry. Brittney claims she has wrinkles and “doesn’t think wrinkles look nice on little girls.” After getting injected, Brittney says she looks “pretty, beautiful, and all those other nice words.” Mother, Kerry, says all the other moms in the pageant world also inject their daughters with botox and that she is absolutely not the only one. How young is too young to be receiving medical procedures for vein purposes? If these injections were being administered by a doctor, it would be considered malpractice. Kerry Campbell is now in under investigation for child abuse. “Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Alexander Rivkin of California, slams what the mother is doing to her daughter. Rivkin specializes in facial injectable and facial cosmetic surgery, and is deeply concerned that people are buying Botox and fillers online attempting to do this at home or at ‘parties.’ You cannot purchase Botox without being a physician. What the mother is doing is not only monstrous and abusive but clearly against the law. Only nurses and physicians are allowed to administer Botox because you have to know how to do it safely to avoid potentially life threatening complications!”
This is a video of mother Kerry and daughter Brittney speaking to reporters about the botox injections:
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Is Anyone trying to help this situation and promote a healthy, natural body image to young women?
Because many young women today are having more self-esteem and self -confidence issues than ever, Dove Launched a Campaign for Real Beauty to help young women cope with the pressures of society. Girls, no matter what age, constantly look to celebrities as their role models because they receive so much attention in the media. “Girls take away the message that these images represent a societal norm, and as a result punish themselves for not living up to impossible beauty ideals. The cycle continues to intensify as these perceived flawless images further inundate their world in overwhelming quantities.”
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, launched in 2004, promised to create “a new definition of beauty [that] will free women from self-doubt and encourage them to embrace their real beauty.”
As well as launching the Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove has also collected much information through surveys and studies on the media’s influence on young women. They found that:
- The average person sees between 400 and 600 advertisements per day – equivalent to more than one message for every waking minute.
- The average US girl has the opportunity to see an estimated 77,546 commercials by the time she is 12 years old.
- This growing phenomenon is having a direct impact on girls’ self-image and even causing some to engage in destructive behavior.
- 93 percent of girls and young women report feeling anxiety or stress about some aspect of their looks when getting ready in the morning
- This could explain why more than 70 percent of girls and young women avoid activities when they feel bad about their looks including giving their opinion, attending school and even going to the doctor.
- 76 percent of girls and young women admit to partaking in unhealthy activities when they feel badly about their bodies
- 58 percent of girls describe themselves in negative terms, including words like “disgusting” and “ugly,” when feeling badly about themselves.
- Nearly four out of 10 engage in unhealthy eating behaviors, such as anorexia or bulimia.
- More than one out of 10 girls has used cutting or self-inflicted injury as a coping mechanism.
Dove has been such a great inspiration to young women everywhere. They use many media platforms such as websites, YouTube videos, commercials, and mother/daughter workshops to get their message out. Dove continuously pushes young women to see the beauty in their real, natural bodies, and to not fall under the influence of advertisements that we are forced to watch every single day. Dove makes their message very clear through their video “Evolution.” But what are Dove’s campaign followers supposed to think when they find out the innocent, supposedly natural, advertisements of Dove models are ALL RETOUCHED. Dove has put on such a good fore front that followers of their campaign would not expect them to also fall into the trap of trying to achieve perfection. “Pascal Dangin, a photograph retouch extraordinaire who works regularly for Vogue, Dior, Balenciaga, and many others commented on the work he has done for the Dove Campaign: “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” He asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.”
In conclusion, I feel that the media persuades as well as greatly influences a young women’s decision to go under the knife repeatedly. The media bombards us with images of “perfect” women every day, no matter what we are doing; while we watch television we see commercials of perfect women, while we read a magazine we see over re-touched advertisements, while we are driving we see billboards with the same type images. The image of perfection is everywhere we turn and cannot be avoided. This forces girls to live in fear that they are not good enough or pretty enough. Even efforts to help the situation, such as Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, succumb to re-touching women that are supposed to look as if they are “normal, everyday” women.
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Van Spima, Ashley. “Barbie girl Brooke Bates reveals how she’s transforming herself after lipo at 12 years old Read more: http://www.mirror.co.uk/life-style/real-life/2011/05/01/barbie-girl-brooke-bates-reveals-how-she-s-transforming-herself-after-lipo-at-12-years-old-115875-23097937/