the lip crew on cosmetic surgery
If life gives you lemons, a simple operation can give you melons
‘Whether we like it or not it we live in an era in which personal modification of everything, including your person, is a possibility. We live on an overcrowded blue rock hurtling through space and your difference from the other seven billion people – even though we are not so different in any real sense – can be as small as a unique iPhone cover, stripy zebra seat covers in a bright green car, surgically enhanced boobage, or the removal of your lower rib bones in order to achieve a smoother waist line. It is not wrong to want these things; our culture values visual appeal and rewards beauty over achievement. But should we be cutting on ourselves? Cosmetic surgery is predominantly something that is aimed at women and we account for 92% of all surgeries performed! Why is it that we are such a target market? Clearly there is much unhappiness with the way we look, but to go from lipstick and underwire bras to radical surgery in a hundred years – what’s up with that?’ – Rianh Silvertree, Writer
‘The most frequent argument I’ve heard/read in favour of cosmetic surgery is that “you should do whatever you can to feel better about yourself”. This isn’t wrong, exactly, but I think it’s an oversimplification of the issue. It’d be a lie to say that I’ve never looked at myself and thought, “life would be so much easier if I got surgery to fix this one thing”. I think that’s a normal thought. And we do unnecessary things to alter our appearance all the time – maybe just for fun but sometimes to meet social standards. (My hair, for example, is chemically straightened. Not surgery but also not necessary and definitely not harmless.) My issue with cosmetic surgery is that there will always be another “thing” that could be better. It doesn’t actually fix what’s wrong. Our bodies, when they are healthy and functioning, are not the problem. The problem is whatever standard we’re trying to meet. But, if someone has the means to do it, has thought about the decision, and is going about it safely, then I don’t think it’s my place to judge.’ – Shannon Clarke, Writer
‘I continue to beat my head against a wall when I ponder the fact that we live in a world that tries to deny safe abortions, has no access to legal euthanasia, and continues to prosecute against same sex relationships, or even – hell, get this – people holding hands. Sometimes by death. Nobody has any real reason to take away from an individual their fundamental right to experiment with, deconstruct, kill off, cram full or beautify their own body, however they choose. Cosmetic surgery is as old as the hills, just like all other forms of body modification. Next time you feel hysterical because someone is doing something to their own body that doesn’t affect you, just…I dunno, do whatever you want really – as long as it’s not near me, so I can bang my head on the wall in peace.’ – Audrey K Hulm, Writer
‘Excluding cosmetic surgery that happens out of medical necessity or as a result of birth defects, I think the reason why cosmetic surgery is so commonly accepted is because “cosmetic surgery” is itself a euphemism. Let’s call what it really is: unnecessary and invasive body modification undertaken in order to fulfil social standards of beauty (real or imagined). Granted, my label is a bit unwieldy and difficult to put on a billboard, but the reality is stark. All surgeries have inherent risks. The risks are low enough that surgery is often a good option to redress medical issues, but, people die. There are many cases of women dying on operating tables during their cosmetic procedure. I don’t think cosmetic surgery is something I can personally condone.’ – Erin Stewart, Books Editor
‘Cosmetic surgery is a Catch-22 for feminism. On the one hand, I support a woman’s right to decide what happens to her body, and that has to extend to cosmetic enhancement. On the other, I think it’s very important to consider the reasons behind choosing to alter your body. Specifically, whose idea of beauty are you trying to meet? Why is one body “more desirable” than another, and why are you undergoing surgery to be ‘desirable’? I would never have cosmetic surgery. Everyone knows that images of “beautiful” women are usually photoshopped or enhanced in some way, but it is easy to buy into that illusion and convince yourself of your “imperfections”. Cosmetic surgery may present itself as a solution to your “problems” but I don’t think it really fixes anything. Again, that’s my personal view and not a mandate for how women should behave.’ – Amy Nicholls-Diver, News Editor
‘I have mixed feelings about plastic and cosmetic surgery. While I cringe at the sight of botoxed faces and unnaturally enhanced busts, I cannot dismiss the benefits of the medical specialty. When I lost over 60kgs, everyone complimented me on my transformation. What they couldn’t see was all the loose skin that was left behind and the ongoing misery – and physical discomfort – this caused. Enter the cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon. Three operations – including breast augmentation – and one year later, I was free from the unflattering and uncomfortable skin.
Six years later, and I am still working on accepting my body, especially my breasts (I often wonder if having implants makes me “fake”). I cannot count the number of times that I have sat through a conversation about breast implants and wanted to crawl under the table and hide…wanted to pull up my shirt in case anyone suspects something unnatural about my cleavage. These are the times I think to myself what my life would have been like if I hadn’t had the surgery – if I still had all that extra skin and the physical and psychological pain that came with it.
Yes, it is very sad that people feel the need to change how they look to feel better about themselves, be more attractive and adhere to the current ideal of beauty. But for some people plastic and cosmetic surgery can be hugely beneficial and make a genuine improvement to their quality of life. Like anything, it depends on the circumstances.’ – Anonymous Writer
‘For me, cosmetic surgery is just one sign of our society’s focus on female appearance. In contemporary western society, women are constantly told that they need to spend money on their appearance, and cosmetic surgery is just one means by which the beauty industry exploits us. By pulling tight the skin on our face and increasing the size of our breasts, cosmetic surgery, we are told, will increase our happiness. We will look fantastic and our lives will be better…
Now I won’t deny that for some women this is undoubtedly the case. I’ve heard countless stories of women who have gotten a boob job or decreased the size of their nose and claimed afterward that they have “never felt better.” Cosmetic surgery plays a role in boosting women’s confidence and I think that this is great. But I can’t help but feel ambiguous about the value that it seems to place on the “improvement” of female appearance. Why is it that getting a boob job improves women’s lives? For me, quality of life is determined by far more than my appearance, and I would hope that for other women this is the case too.’ – Heidi La Paglia, Writer
‘I don’t really know what to say about this topic, other than that I don’t agree with it. I don’t believe that plastic surgery should be an option for people (barring people involved in accidents and/or for medical reasons). Why? Because it leads them to believe that happiness can be found in appearance. I say this because I myself have thought, quite seriously, about plastic surgery. I have always hated my nose and after studying the button nose of every television actress ever, I have come to the conclusion that my nose is not one that Hollywood appreciates. But I have only thought about it when there are other things in my life that I am not happy with; things that don’t have an easy fix and that I often don’t even realise are there (if only because I avoid thinking about them). If in one of those moments I did go through with plastic surgery, I would simply be masking much deeper issues. To tie in body image and happiness is to set yourself up for a lifetime of disappointments, because no matter what you do to your body, it will never be perfect. And in the time you spend trying to change your appearance, you will lose focus on what is important, and the happiness you desire will be even further out of your reach.’ – Kaylia Payne, Writer
‘When I think of cosmetic surgery, my mind throws back to dialogue between Eddie and Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous, discussing the lengths women in particular will go to be beautiful:
Eddie: You know, there must be a moment about a week after death when all those women finally achieve the figure they desire.
Patsy: Skeleton thin with plastic bumps.
Eddie: The flesh will rot away, but the bumps will still be there. Little coffins full of bones and bumps.
While this is meant to be humorous as it is uttered by women who are willing to undergo cosmetic procedures, its satire harks to a situation that until the last century could not be matched. Historians frequently analyse remains for evidence of how previous societies lived. Countless medieval skeletons have been found with weapons lodged between their bones, succumbing to the power of their enemy. When historians look to the skeletons of our society they will see how absorbed we were with beauty and how it wielded so much power over us in the countless breast, buttock and bicep implants which lay with us. Not quite ashes to ashes, dust to dust anymore.’ – Sarah Iuliano, Writer