Hollywood has a habit of making plastic surgery seem like a crime. I see countless articles every week accusing this or that celebrity of changing some part of their body by way of a cosmetic procedure. Their actions are called to a court of eager followers who ultimately decide whether the celebrity is condemned or not. This habit we have of turning a negative spotlight on plastic surgery through tabloids and Snapchat scrutinization, combined with the multiple stereotypes regarding men and women who choose to have it done, gives cosmetic procedures a pretty damaged reputation.
It’s evident that it’s time to stop the stigma against plastic surgery once and for all, but how do we tear down this stained reputation? How do we stop labeling people who have gone through cosmetic procedures as “fake” and “insecure”?
The first step is to stop the negative commentary. One of the biggest starting points in this is to realize that another person’s cosmetic procedures are none of your business. As cavalier or blunt as that may sound, it is the truth. How can we truly give respect to others if we cannot let them make a change to their body without criticizing their decision? The answer is that we cannot. “My body, my choice” is a message that can be applied to many social issues, including the stigma of plastic surgery. If someone chooses to get rhinoplasty, it is their body and their choice—the same way it’s their choice when they choose to get mint-flavored toothpaste or a tattoo in the shape of a heart instead of a star. It’s not “my body, my choice, and your comment”—an individual’s choice to undergo plastic surgery should not be a forum for open discussion but a decision for a single person to make for themselves.
The second step is to stop the stereotypes. These stereotypes stem from the negative connotations given to plastic surgery. You can’t scroll through a post on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram page without seeing a comment accusing her of “lying to her followers” because she has undergone cosmetic procedures. This rhetoric—that women who wear makeup or have undergone plastic surgery are spreading a false image of themselves, are inauthentic, and do so because they are not confident in themselves—comes up a lot. But this is not the case. Humans should not and do not make choices for their bodies based on the general public, which therefore does not give the general public a right to comment on those choices or group these women under one label. One person may wear makeup to experiment with wild colors, while another may wear it to add definition to their eyelids. Someone may get plastic surgery because it will improve their overall health, or maybe they don’t like the way their nose or lips look and want to change such a feature. These, among countless others, are all perfectly acceptable reasons to undergo a cosmetic procedure, and absolutely none of them categorize a person as fake or self-conscious. The moment we stop placing every person's experience under the same umbrella—the moment we start thinking first and accusing second—is the moment when stereotyping will begin to diminish. You can start doing this today.
The third step is to pass on this information to others: your friends, your family, and the younger generation. It’s not reasonable to expect change if a message isn’t spread. Put what you’ve learned in this article into practice. Question yourself before you’re about to make a comment about a celebrity who’s suspected of breast enhancements. Question your friends when they talk about someone on the street who they thought was wearing too much eyeshadow. Teach your younger siblings that when someone makes a choice about their body, it is their choice only. The best part about all of this is that you can start making these changes and starting these conversations now. You are one of the main components of ending the stigma against plastic surgery.
Alyson Zetta Williams