Is Plastic Surgery Anti-Feminist, Or are We Just Overly Judgemental?

Image Courtesy of Carewell Medical Center

By Angela Hickey

Some call it a medical marvel, others call it a complete and utter disgrace. Whether you’re a fan or not, plastic surgery remains to be one of the highest-paying medical fields in the country. According to Medscape’s 2021 Physician Compensation Report, plastic surgery is the highest-paying physician specialty, earning a salary of $110k to $430k a year. With famous stars as the results of their practices (and lining their pockets), it seems like plastic surgery is a cure-all for so-called “physical imperfections.” But, is plastic surgery all it’s cracked up to be?

When talking about plastic surgery, most of the time it’s to talk about a botched job or to poke fun at some celebrity setting unrealistic beauty standards. But, what we’ve never considered is how these stars feel post-op, especially after famous ex-Victoria’s Secret model, Bella Hadid, came clean to news sources saying she regretted the nose job she received (at 14-years-old nonetheless). 

“I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors,” Hadid shared in an interview with Vogue recently. 

For years, Hadid denied having any form of plastic surgery, so this news did not come as much of a shock to fans who were certain she had work done. But why would she lie in the first place? 

Hadid is not the only one. Plenty of stars, such as Kylie Jenner and Tyra Banks, have admitted to hiding (and regretting) previous procedures. 

But, there are also stars who are very open with the fact that they had work done. Such as musician, actress, and country legend, Dolly Parton, who famously said, “If something is bagging, sagging or dragging, I’ll tuck it, suck it or pluck it.”

Which begs the real question, which is worse?

“Girls nowadays live in a culture with so much pressure to change their appearances, whether it’s putting on makeup or something more extreme like cosmetic surgery,” says Leora Tanenbaum, feminist and author of I Am Not a Slut. “But rather than judging or shaming individuals (like Hadid), we need to think more collectively about the pressures young women face to look a certain way.”

There’s no denying the fact that young girls, especially these days, are experiencing immense pressure in terms of beauty, ultimately generating a lot of traction on the internet about what the world identifies as “ideal beauty.”

“The psychological pressure to meet societal beauty standards can be difficult to manage, especially because it can leave you feeling like you’re never good enough,” says Naomi Torres-Mackie, head of research at the Mental Health Coalition, calling these beauty comparisons “a rigged race that’s unwinnable.”

There are even some arguing that plastic surgery is “anti-feminist,” encouraging young girls to try and attain these unrealistic beauty standards and destroy themselves in the process. But the problem isn’t plastic surgery; it’s the lack of communication from those who use it the most.

I’m not saying plastic surgery isn’t dangerous. There are plenty of examples of celebrities and normal people dealing with the repercussions of failed procedures—just look at TV shows like Botched (2014). But, just because a person wants plastic surgery, it doesn’t necessarily make them a villain. 

At the very root of it, plastic surgery is a medical procedure, and there are plenty of people who get plastic surgery for reasons outside of cosmetic alteration. Plastic surgery can be used to fix deviated septums, reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems, and can even help with vision, neck, and back pain.

When push comes to shove, the argument that plastic surgery, in its nature, is inherently anti-feminist is a more complex argument than one may intend. There can be arguments made for both sides depending on the circumstances. But, I believe that while plastic surgery is not bad by itself, it is when it’s used as a tool to prey on insecure girls, and when it’s used to manipulate women who probably don’t really need it. 

So no, plastic surgery isn’t anti-feminist, but the way it’s used as a weapon to prey on one’s fears and insecurities totally is.

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