Every year reports are released confirming what we already suspect – more and more people are choosing to have cosmetic surgery in order to look and feel better about themselves.
Despite the growing number of people deciding to change their appearance with surgery, there are some that are reluctant to even make an initial consultation because they believe there is still a stigma associated with it. The truth is, as the number of surgical operationsperformed in the UK has increased(last year saw a 16.5% rise in procedures) thestigma surrounding cosmetic surgery has largely disappeared.
People don’t buy newspapers (or visit websites) to read about the thousands and thousands of successful surgeries that are performed every year – so it’s no surprise that you won’t usually find these stories. Instead the media focus on extreme cosmetic surgery procedures or inappropriate buy one get one free promotions ran by unscrupulous surgery groups. While these stories aren’t representative of the cosmetic surgery industry, whichstrives to put the needs of its patients first, they do sell newspapers.
On the other hand, more celebrities than ever are being honest and proud about work they’ve had done. It’s not just reality television stars that are being open either – icons like Dolly Parton speak out and don’t consider cosmetic surgery shameful at all, and these attitudes are entering mainstream culture.
Not Just Celebrities
While the disproportionate exposure that scare stories receive is likely to contribute towards the stigma around cosmetic surgery, most normal people are aware, thankfully, that these stores are not representative of cosmetic surgery. This is in large part because more and more ‘normal’ people are willing to talk about their experiences.
A decade or so ago you might only have heard of A-List celebrities that have gone under the knife, but these days it is more likely that you will know someone personally that has had cosmetic surgery. As people begin to realise that their friends, family and colleaguesare opting for surgery, they will understand that vanity is not the driving factor behind the majority of procedures. The examples of every day, real life people choosing to have surgery can be much more powerful than manipulated, sensationalised stories in the tabloids.
A liberal society
It’s clear to see that over the past couple of decades the world has become much more comfortable with celebrating differences and people’s right to live the way they want.
While some parts of the media are focusing on celebrity or extreme cosmetic surgeries, these days the cultural commentators that really influence how people think are actually arguing the case for cosmetic surgery.
Men and women
While most cosmetic surgery is still undertaken by women, a growing number of men are also choosing to have work done. This has a positive effect on tackling stigma, because it challenges the assumption that only a certain type of person chooses to have cosmetic surgery.
Rules and regulations
In early 2014, the government failed to implement recommendations made in the Keogh report. This means that certain cosmetic non-surgical procedures remain unregulated.
The major bodies representing cosmetic surgeons in the UK (BAAPS and BAPRAS) made their disappointment at the ruling very clear, and have vowed to continue to campaign for tighter regulations. The fact that demands for stricter regulations to protect patients is being called for from within the industry has contributed to the mature, responsible image it is building within the UK despite a very small irresponsible minority.
Some patients will happily discuss the work they’ve had done with friends and co-workers. Otherswill have their reasons for not wanting their co-workers or friends knowing they’ve had cosmetic surgery, even as stigma surrounding the subject disappears. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be discreet – but you will have to let your cosmetic surgeon know during a consultation that you’re after a more subtle change!