Plastic surgery can be liberating, but at what cost?

Trends do not enhance your natural beauty

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Plastic surgery trends online and in celebrity culture.

Buccal fat removals, lip fillers, butt lifts and more—it seems like every day there’s a new type of plastic surgery taking the internet like storm.

Celebrities and other cultural icons are coming out in droves having undergone different types of procedures to stay looking young and conforming to every shifting beauty standard. Molding your face and body is easier than ever, so you can switch out looks as easily as Shein switches its catalogues.

Plastic surgery, like other aspects of the greater beauty industry, is a difficult topic to tackle because of two truths that seem contradictory sometimes: everyone looks fine as they are, but everyone has the right to do what they want with their appearances and bodies. 

There are many issues with plastic surgery as an industry and lots of factors to consider, but it’s hard to voice them when you realize a lot of arguments about it can apply to other things like fashion, makeup, and tattoos. Sometimes you run into the issue of critiquing plastic surgery in a way that feeds into misogynistic narratives.

Of course, bodily autonomy can’t be ignored in this conversation. At the end of the day, access to plastic surgery means people have ultimate control over their appearance and how they present themselves. People should be allowed to change their appearance according to their preferences and should not be policed. 

Plastic surgery in general is an interesting facet of the wider beauty industry because of what it targets and why. If a new body type is trending and you can’t achieve that naturally, then plastic surgery gives you quick access to that shape. But why are you being sold that body type?

Regardless of whether you think plastic surgery is good or bad, one thing needs to be deconstructed: the idea it tries to “enhance your natural beauty.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard often from surgeons advertising their surgeries, chasing away accusations of profiting off people’s insecurities. I just have one question in the face of that: in what way is it true?

Think of the nose job, a well-known form of plastic surgery. It’s hard to deny the popularity of this procedure comes from toxic beauty standards rooted in racism. A bigger nose is a feature often associated with BIPOC identities, and the beauty standard of having a smaller and narrower nose specifically demonizes the idea of looking more “ethnic.” 

If plastic surgeons and their industry wanted to enhance your natural beauty, why would they target things that made you look less like the white Eurocentric beauty standard?

Similarly, Brazilian butt lifts, known as BBLs, have gained large popularity through the success and hype around Kim Kardashian’s figure. This beauty standard is opposite to that of the 2000s—proving how trendy plastic surgery is.

In alignment with this shift in what’s deemed beautiful and Kim Kardashian being the figure head for this image—whether she knows it or not—many have taken to surgery to change their appearance. 

While BBLs can be liberating for those who are insecure about their body and want the change, it’s important to acknowledge they may be catalyzed by the societal pressures relating to beauty standards, and what we see online.

I don’t want to say all plastic surgery is bad and should end. I don’t even want to say no one should ever do these things. The technology is fascinating and liberating, especially if you experience dysphoria or body dysmorphia, but consider this: what would you actually change about yourself without external pressure?


BIPOC, Body dysmorphia, Kim Kardashian, Plastic Surgery, Trendy

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