Since June is Beautiful in Your Skin month, I would like to discuss the rise in plastic surgery. I recently learned that the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has reported that surgery has significantly increased while nonsurgical procedures have decreased. Many of these surgeries are being performed on minors as young as 13, so I decided to hijack the intended meaning of this month in favor of a meaning far more relevant.
The founders of Beautiful in Your Skin Month intended for it to be about skincare, and while I believe that is important, I find it’s more compelling to talk about being satisfied in the skin that you’re in—in other words, being comfortable in your own skin.
This rise in plastic surgery among women in general, and adolescent females in particular, is being attributed to social media filters and the amount of time we’ve spent looking at ourselves on Zoom during the pandemic.
Apparently, most of the cameras being used for Zoom make our noses look broader and our eyes look smaller. So, as we’ve been staring at ourselves for the past 15 months, we’ve been adding up all our shortcomings and planning surgical corrections. This plot was even abetted by the time people had at home to recover from these procedures, doing away with the endless explanations of where all our bruises were coming from.
Doctors reported that teenaged women searching for cosmetic surgery were requesting that their surgeons make them look more like their filtered images on social media. This obsession with beauty and perfection is dangerous from a psychological point of view.
The true key to happiness is not to fight against the reality of your current existence. Sheryl Crow sang it in her song, “Soak up the Sun”: “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
I have so many questions. Who are you attempting to please with your new look? Do you want to like what you see in the mirror instead? Are you trying to please someone else or attract someone else’s attention? What is it about your natural self that you don’t like? What will chasing the next beauty phenomenon feel like for you? Will you need to keep changing yourself to suit the tide of public opinion? Have you seen people who have had botched plastic surgery or repeated plastic surgery? The results are anything but pretty.
I have spent a good portion of my professional career helping women love themselves and prioritize physical, mental and emotional self-care. To the woman who thinks loving herself will be easier if she looks more like her social–media–filtered profile picture, have you considered that there is far more to you than your face? What is on the inside is far more significant than what’s on the outside. What will happen when the beauty fades? Will you have another surgery?
People value things like honesty, loyalty, kindness, friendship, confidence and integrity. These are the things that I want to be known for. A person overly concerned about their looks and social image is doomed to be at the whim of other people’s comments about them and their looks. What one person likes, another person won’t. You will forever be chasing the approval of others.
No matter how many surgeries you have, you will always bring yourself with you—all the intangible factors that make you you, which surgery cannot correct. My wish for all women is that they can look themselves in the mirror and see everything, the tangible and intangible, and like what they see. Do you love the person you are or is your self-approval dependent on the approval of others? In your everyday life, are you being the person you want to be? The answer to that question is much more important for your self-esteem than whether you look like your social media pic. Work on finding that contentment and fulfillment inside, not on the outside. It will last a lifetime.