We’ve all seen them, the beautiful celebrities that begin having plastic surgery only to correct the flaws in their minds, leaving them with looks that are distorted and harsh. Media puts additional pressure on women and men as they age, wanting to preserve the look they had years ago. Actresses with lips so plumped they talk with a lisp, faces pulled so tight that the appearance is alien, or cheeks so filled and full that the eyes look bizarre when they smile for the paparazzi. We have come to expect this distorted look in Hollywood, because so many of them have cosmetic surgery, and we no longer question the addictive component of repeated surgeries to correct the flaws left by the first one.
Addictions to distorted body image aren’t only seen in Hollywood. They are seen among our friends and family. Beauty is a huge industry, and women suffer from the loss of perceived beauty as they age. There are limited mentors in magazines or on television who allow themselves to age naturally. This continues the illusion that aging is unacceptable or a problem that needs to be fixed rather than allowing the changes and appreciating beauty at all ages. The problem with having a distorted body image and using cosmetic surgery to repair the perceived flaw is that it will never be enough. When your view is distorted you continue to find other areas of your body that need tweaking, tucking and cut away. A face pulled tight by surgery is not attractive; it’s unnatural and gives a waxy appearance that isn’t human. The objective viewer notices the alien look, but to the person with the tight skin face the focus quickly shifts to other areas that are slack and need tightening. It’s scary when adults have this addiction, but when our teenagers and younger children begin saying they need cosmetic changes to be happy with their looks, it becomes a tragedy.
What causes this addiction to begin with? It’s complicated. People who want to change dissatisfaction with their body or face seek cosmetic surgery, and instead of being satisfied with the new look they begin focusing on their expectations not being met, and this leads them to identifying another imperfection. Once the cycle of addiction begins it is vicious and continues through numerous surgeries, a loss of income, and many times severe depression.
There are many reasons people seek plastic surgery, and identifying your reasons can help you decide if this is something you need for your self-esteem, or if your self-esteem is based more on distorted emotional issues that counseling may be more effective handling.
- Plastic surgery works well for those with an average to healthy self-esteem, know exactly what they want, and have many other interests in their life besides their looks.
- If you have a low self-esteem and you think cosmetic surgery will give you more confidence and make you happier and content, this may be a red flag. Happiness is an inside job, and external factors don’t bring happiness. You may feel content after the surgery, but if you believe surgery will change your life and make your dreams come true, you are probably going to be disappointed.
- The people most likely to become addicted lack self-worth. They feel content immediately after the surgery, but that is followed with emptiness and dissatisfaction. They seek out another surgery as a way to feel better. Those affected by a low self-worth believe that enhancing their body by way of surgery will make them happier with jobs, success, love, sex, and a younger appearance. Denial with the addiction helps to keep this illusion in place. The media furthers the denial by sending messages that beauty and youth are linked to competitiveness, success, love, sex and happiness.
People that are addicted, no matter what the addiction, suffer from a constant doubting of themselves. They are constantly in need of being reassured that they are good enough. They don’t have the ability to see their own potential, so they look to others for approval. Society has helped enable the importance of our appearance. You see normal human imperfections powdered, photo-shopped and airbrushed no matter where you look. However, our childhood also influences our addictions. A child who doesn’t grow up feeling that their emotional needs were met suffers low self-esteem. When the inside is broken, no plastic surgeon can make you a new one. Counseling is the only way you can re-parent yourself and build a healthy self-esteem. Plastic surgery is a wonderful option. However, if you are expecting it to make you happy, heal a broken relationship or give you a renewed self-esteem, think again!!!!Mary Jo Rapini