An essay on the impact of plastic surgery.
9 April 2019
Surgery of Happiness
"Why can't people just be happy with what they were born with?" This is one of the first questions you will hear from someone who is skeptical about the idea of why people choose to have plastic surgery. But just as with any other controversial topic in the world, each side has its own justifications. Having gone through the experience of plastic surgery, I have realized the positive implications it may have on a person and their self-esteem.
This all started around the start of high school for me- an age where most young females have started to become fully aware of their physical appearance and how they present themselves to the general public. My nose never bothered me before then, but one day it stuck out at me and I saw myself staring into my reflection like a deer in headlights. During this time, a major incline of social media use started, and "selfie" is announced Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionary in 2013 (Killingsworth). To put it in perspective, this word received its title one year before I started high school, so the idea of taking pictures of yourself and posting them online was at a new all time high. While many beneficial factors came with the introduction of social media, some bad ones were, and still are, right alongside it.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and social media has become the perfect accomplice to this expression. I quickly found myself at a young age scrolling through Instagram and seeing girls who appeared to be beautiful, and then at times wanting to be them. This is explained by Donna Wick, EdD, founder of Mind-to-Mind Parenting, who says that "for teenagers the combined weight of vulnerability, the need for validation, and a desire to compare themselves with peers forms what she describes as a 'perfect storm of self-doubt'" (qtd. in Jacobson). This insecurity slowly crept over me and followed me throughout all of high school until it became an obsession. Although I believe my diffidence about my nose would have come about on it's own, social media sparked the flame of my awareness for my dislike of it.
It is harder for those who don't feel insecure about a physical attribute on themselves to truly understand the emotional toll it takes on a person. The thought of how my nose looked was always in the back of my head. If a group photo was being taken, making sure my head was tilted at an angle where the camera wouldn't capture how wide my nose became instinctual. Covering the lower half of my face with my hands around others when I would laugh became second nature because I knew how much my nose flares when I smiled. I told myself how much happier I would be if I could just be comfortable with what lies in the center of my face. Actually, I knew that having a nose which better fit my face would make me much happier. This thought further manifested into the idea of plastic surgery.
Growing up, I had the same misconceptions about plastic surgery as most people do, so the thought of me doing such thing was crazy to me. I always believed that I would never be the type of person to get plastic surgery, but looking back I have realized how silly of a thought that is because there is not one "type" of person who is considered to go through it. After over two years of the thought of surgery, my parents came to terms that this was something I genuinely wanted for myself, and both my parents and I finally felt comfortable and ready for the change to take place. Soon after a date became finalized, numerous questions flooded my thoughts. How does being sedated feel like? What if they mess up my nose and I end up on the next season of Botched? How bad will it hurt after? I have never experienced such nervousness as I did before this surgery, but my desire to have this happen overcame my nerves, and I went through with it.
In addition to how I felt before the surgery, a rollercoaster of emotions occurred immediately after waking up from what the doctors called a "margarita sleep." With what felt like pounds of bandages on my face, I had no idea what my face was to look like after. The final result of what the nose is supposed to look like takes about a year, so from that point on it was just a waiting game. After around two weeks, my nose still appeared to be swollen to me, but would appear to be a normal sized nose to anyone who didn't know me. Despite that my nose still had plenty of swelling that needed to go down, I was beyond thrilled with the result already.
The characteristics which bothered me about my nose were no longer there, and I felt the burden of constant thoughts about how my nose appeared leave my mind. But besides the anticipation of what my nose now looked like, I was most excited for the rewarding self-thoughts which were to come. The Association for Psychological Science finds this experience to be true for most, as they state, "Among those dissatisfied with a particular physical feature and considering aesthetic surgery, undergoing surgery appears to result in positive self-reported psychological changes" (David). I felt just that, as this surgery has impacted my day to day life.
It has now been exactly four months since I have undergone the surgery, and I have experienced nothing but overwhelming joy for all the negative thoughts lifted off me. This feeling is challenging to understand or explain to someone who hasn't gone through it. What I do hope you get out of this is that most people who choose to go through the emotional rollercoaster of changing their appearance permanently are motivated more than just by how they wish to appear on the outside, but rather how they wish to feel on the inside.
David, Anna B. "Can Cosmetic Procedures Make Us Happier?" Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 10 Apr. 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/recover-girl/201804/can-cosmetic-procedures-make-us-happier.
Jacobson, Rae. "Social Media and Self-Esteem | Impact of Social Media on Youth." Child Mind Institute, 2019, childmind.org/article/social-media-and-self-doubt/.
Killingsworth, Silvia. "And the Word of the Year Is..." The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/and-the-word-of-the-year-is.