Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

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Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by reboundstudent on Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:40 pm

I don't think it's a secret that plastic surgery arouses very bipolar opinions in society. On the one hand, you lack self-respect/self-esteem for getting it. On the other hand, there are heavy repercussions for continuing to exist as an ugly person and not "doing" something about it. On the one hand, it's "unnatural" looking and thus ugly. On the other hand, "good work" isn't.

I've played around with the idea of getting plastic surgery for years. I wouldn't change everything-just a few areas that have always been a huge sticking point (my chin, my stomach/weight.) I'm finally getting to the point financially where I could maybe entertain the idea of indulging the idea. However, whenever I've mused about it, the reaction I've always gotten back is that plastic surgery is for people without self-esteem, that the money would be better spent on therapy and self-acceptance, that inner beauty is what's important, blah blah blah. The overwhelming sense I get is that even if I did end up looking much better (and thus improving many areas of my life), there'd still be a lot of harsh judgment about my mental health and character because I went through with it.

I know there are always gonna be jerks who judge, but plastic surgery seems to be one of those things where the judgment is very wide-spread and deep-seated. Hell, I've seen people online who in the same breath say ugly people are disgusting, but people who get plastic surgery are "pathetic" and so equally unattractive.

Is there ever a way to both be accepting of yourself/have good self esteem and want cosmetic surgery? Is it always a sign of mental illness/addition to physical attraction? Is it bad to dislike being ugly and wanting to fix it? Is it better to be judged as an ugly person who accepted their ugliness, or as a pretty person who hates herself and is vain?
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by Enail on Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:02 pm

To be honest, I think basing your decision on that question (ETA: that question being how will people judge you if you do/don't) is letting other people's judgements have an unhealthy amount of power over you - and yeah, I know that's a judgement too that's not necessarily any more valid than any other. And I know that other peoples' judgements are something that can affect you and your happiness, and so it's natural and reasonable to consider that as well. But you are never going to please all of them.

If you get plastic surgery, if you stay looking exactly as you are, if you develop masterful makeup skills to appear more conventionally attractive than you are as a third option, they will judge you. If you become thin by obsessive amounts of exercise and food restriction, if you do it through surgery, if you decide to stay how you are, they will judge you. If you grow old and get wrinkles. If you get face lifts to look younger. If you spend too much time or money on your looks. If you 'let yourself go.'  They will judge you.

It's impossible to please everyone on any subject, and the beauty game in particular is designed to be unwinnable. You cannot win that game. You will never win that game. I'm sorry. I think you've just got to pick which way you'd rather lose.


Last edited by Enail on Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by Izmuth on Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:32 pm

If I would think plastic surgery would make you happier, I would encourage you to take it. It's your body, it's your choice what to do with it, especially if you think it'll make your life easier.

Buuut... I have to agree with Enail that I don't think it will help. In my (albeit limited) experience some plastic surgery often leads to more. When people have fixed one issue, another one will pop up which retroactively always has been the problem. Feeling ugly and unwanted never goes away.

If you still want to try it out, I would make a list with body problems you think you have. If after surgery you find that you suddenly find new things wrong with your body, you at least have evidence your jerkbrain is actively lying to you to make you unhappy.
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by Caffeinated on Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:24 pm

I think the judgments about people who get plastic surgery are garbage. If someone wants to change their body, be it through surgery, tattoos, piercings, exercise, or whatever, that's a personal decision. I think it's only really up for judgment so popularly as a little example of some underlying sexism in society, as it's popularly seen as a more female-coded thing to do (and specifically a female-coded thing to do that implies failure at the most important female-coded thing: being effortlessly beautiful.

For a positive example of plastic surgery, I have a friend whose ears were missing a bit of cartilage at birth, making them kind of curl in rather than lay flat against her head. When she was 18, she saved up the money to have a procedure to change them so they'd lay flat. Before that, she always carefully styled her hair to cover her ears. Afterwards, she rocked a pixie cut for a few years because she felt more confident. In my eyes, it hadn't been a major flaw, but in her eyes, it was, and she was much happier with her looks after the procedure.

Your question also makes me think of how we look at [mostly female] celebrities and aging. If they have had obvious work done, they're mocked. If they don't have anything done and look like normal old people, they're mocked. If they have very subtle work done and never admit to it, they're praised as "aging gracefully". The lesson there is twofold: 1, make sure any plastic surgery done is very well done, and 2, don't talk about it to the kind of people who will judge.
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by Guest on Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:21 pm

Caffeinated wrote:I think it's only really up for judgment so popularly as a little example of some underlying sexism in society, as it's popularly seen as a more female-coded thing to do...

I think we're catching up:



At the end of the day, your wellbeing and how you feel is the more important thing, yes? So to the extent that plastic surgery may make you feel better about yourself in the long run, I think it's somewhat valid. I think one of the more important things to consider for you though would be: Can your conscience handle the consequences of your decisions post surgery, in the case of things not going according to plan? As in, can you guarantee that you won't be among the many people who are still dissatisfied after having work done? Can you safely assert that you won't go back for more than what you initially wanted?

It probably seems like I'm writing to discourage you from doing what you want. It's just that I've had fleeting thoughts of getting some work done myself and while it seems like an attractive idea, I don't know if I can keep myself from being self-critical for having made the decision for surgery. Even if I did look fractionally better, I still have to live with all my idiosyncratic neuroses and flaws.

reboundstudent wrote:Is it bad to dislike being ugly and wanting to fix it?
Nope, it sounds like a very human thing to feel. And do.  

Is it better to be judged as an ugly person who accepted their ugliness, or as a pretty person who hates herself and is vain?
I'd say neither is 'better' since both circumstances are quite shite. Y'know, rotten apples to rotten oranges.

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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by Jayce on Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:02 pm

I have a theory, if plastic surgery costed $15 like an eyebrow wax, would some people still make a big fuss about it? People don't make a fuss about people getting their hair cut or getting their eyebrows waxed, in fact its seen as ok. I think it's the cost that makes it a targeted topic of hatred, some people aren't very comfortable with the idea that someone else is willing to spend a lot of money on their appearance (assuming they are having plastic surgery to improve their appearance and not for other purposes).

It also sometimes depends on culture, I'm chinese, the chinese word for plastic surgery dosen't even involve the word plastic at all. Its actually translated as "fixing surgery", usually termed "fixing appearance surgery". The fact that the word "plastic" is used already infers some sense of fakeness about the whole thing.

Also I think why plastic surgery is more scrutinized is that it's not a 100% perfect process yet. It can fail. You don't know what you will end up looking like until its been done. So some people hate that it can screw up.

A lot of celebrities take plastic surgery because its part of their job to be idealistically, conventionally beautiful.

Maybe someone dosen't feel confident and they want to have surgery to feel better, maybe they have some sort of defect, wrong pigmentation on skin or whatever. And if they decide to do it, then its just a decision that they think will improve their lives.

I personally think plastic surgery shouldn't be such a big deal, its just like a haircut, a decision to change your appearance a bit, it just has a higher risk. And if someone wants to do that, they can, whats the point of being an asshole to them about it?

The whole, haha you wear makeup/tried to lose weight/has plastic surgery/got a haircut, so you're shallow, I' am holier than thou so I deserve to mock you and make you feel bad, is so stupid, and just a form of asshole behaviour.

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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by reboot on Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:29 pm

People judge everything other people do, so you cannot let the fact that you might be judged stop you from doing something you want as long as it harms no one else (e.g. plastic surgery). There is nothing you can do and not be judged.

That said, the money spent on that will not be available for house, dog, student loans, vacation, etc. so you have to prioritize what is most important to you
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by The Wisp on Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:35 pm

@ Jayce, I wonder if part of it also is the squick factor about surgery in general: one's body being sliced and rejiggered, parts removed or inserts added, and then being sewn up again.
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by reboundstudent on Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:03 am

reboot wrote:People judge everything other people do, so you cannot let the fact that you might be judged stop you from doing something you want as long as it harms no one else (e.g. plastic surgery). There is nothing you can do and not be judged.

That said, the money spent on that will not be available for house, dog, student loans, vacation, etc. so you have to prioritize what is most important to you

Yeah, there's a certain amount of money where even if I wanted a procedure, I'm just too practical/have other plans for my money that even if I badly wanted it, I wouldn't go through with it. Other procedures, however (like liposuction under the chin to get rid of "turkey neck") are about what I'd spend on a nice vacation ($2,000), which makes it much more tempting.
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by bomaye on Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:23 am

I think the important bit is what you think the surgery will do for you.

If it's "I am [this] and I will no longer feel [this] after I get the plastic surgery", it's not likely going to last, because the core "I am [this]" has not really been fixed. You'll find something else to "I am [this]" about after the novelty has worn off.

However I have heard anecdotes from dudes with weak chins who got jaw reconstruction that the world has reacted to them better in a better way afterwards. If the goal is to get the outside world reacting better to you, a little this or that that helps with physical symmetry may not hurt. The risk is you won't know if it actually helps until afterwards either, or the world may not be reacting to you in the way you'd hoped beforehand.
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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by OtherRoooToo on Sat Sep 12, 2015 3:41 pm

Enail wrote:To be honest, I think basing your decision on that question (ETA: that question being how will people judge you if you do/don't) is letting other people's judgements have an unhealthy amount of power over you - and yeah, I know that's a judgement too that's not necessarily any more valid than any other. And I know that other peoples' judgements are something that can affect you and your happiness, and so it's natural and reasonable to consider that as well. But you are never going to please all of them.

If you get plastic surgery, if you stay looking exactly as you are, if you develop masterful makeup skills to appear more conventionally attractive than you are as a third option, they will judge you. If you become thin by obsessive amounts of exercise and food restriction, if you do it through surgery, if you decide to stay how you are, they will judge you. If you grow old and get wrinkles. If you get face lifts to look younger. If you spend too much time or money on your looks. If you 'let yourself go.'  They will judge you.

It's impossible to please everyone on any subject, and the beauty game in particular is designed to be unwinnable. You cannot win that game. You will never win that game. I'm sorry. I think you've just got to pick which way you'd rather lose.


I might have to print this out and carry it around.   Smile

I don't think I was ever so shocked, personally, as when the third one happened to me.     I was so used to being ignored and judged for being the "more unattractive" person of a pair of friends, for whatever, that the first time I went somewhere and thought myself I looked nice and also got some compliments from others, the first "Who does she think *she* is?" whispers nearly knocked me right out of my heels ... and the first time it happened (it's happened since; I continue to work on not giving a fine hoot) I actually turned around to see if they were talking about me.   (And one of the girls was like, "Yeah, we're talking about you!"  I was so astonished I just laughed, which I think actually ticked her off more ... at which point I was like, "There really is no way to win here, so I guess I'm just going to to whatever I want.")

There's another thing.     One of the things I think I did (on self-reflection) once I realized "Well, they're going to judge me anyway" is to actually tell people less.   I think it's fine to get second (and third) opinions from people I'm sure I trust on topics I'm fairly sure won't trigger them ... but after that, I just go ahead and do what I want to do ... because everybody's got an opinion, but that doesn't make them right about me.   If I'm picking out a dress or hat that I like that I figure someone is going to criticize as looking "girly" on me, I go ahead and get it anyway if *I* like it.

"Not enough color"? Or, conversely, "too loud"? (I've gotten those two about the same outfit, from two different elders, at which point I was like "This isn't really about me, is it?" innocent to myself.)

"Too much black"? "Not conservative enough"? Same thing.

I think it's only after enough times you get completely opposite criticisms about the exact same thing that you realize the most important thing about any body-altering thing in this physically-obsessed society is what YOU think.

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Re: Plastic Surgery-Is It Always a Self-Esteem Addiction?

Post by ChrissyOrig on Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:51 pm

reboundstudent wrote:I've played around with the idea of getting plastic surgery for years. I wouldn't change everything-just a few areas that have always been a huge sticking point (my chin, my stomach/weight.)  

Just FYI, since you mention the under-the-chin fat area, the FDA recently approved a drug that fixes that without surgery. Can't remember what it's called and don't know of the risks or side effects involved, but that might be another option for that specific area.

As far as judgement, who's going to judge if you don't go around talking about it? Most people who have plastic surgery, unless it is VERY extensive or the doctor totally botched it, get responses that they look rested/relaxed/etc. If you decide to go ahead with any procedure, just keep it to yourself. Whose business is it, anyway? I don't know how to express this, except: when you feel confident in your decision and that you deserve to decide for yourself what you want to look like, other people's opinions won't matter as much. No one is universally liked. No one is universally found attractive. You can't always win. It's just a fact of life. Anyway, good luck with your decision and I hope it works out for you.

ETA: It's a myth that plastic surgery is addictive. That only happens with a very small number of people who have issues. Most people identify areas they don't like, find out what their options are, and may or may not decide to have procedures. Sometimes they will follow up if it needs correction or after a number of years, for example, in the case of a facelift. But it's incorrect to say that plastic surgery is addictive.

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