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Despite the rapid development of cosmetic surgery, the popularity of noninvasive procedures with the application of lasers, peels, and injections is growing every year. The number of noninvasive procedures performed between 2000 and 2015 has increased by 158% (2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report). According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), in 2015, more than 14 million minimally invasive procedures were done in comparison to 1.7 million cosmetic surgical procedures.
Among those topping the list are Botulinum Toxin Type A, Soft Tissue Fillers, Chemical peel, and Laser hair removal (2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report). Moreover, the popularity of noninvasive cosmetic surgery is also growing among men. According to ASPS, men have done more than 1 million minimally invasive procedures since everyone wants to look great (2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report).
Noninvasive therapy in cosmetics of recent years is an absolute trend. However, first of all, it is important to understand what is meant by this term. It is used to describe methods of investigation or treatment, during which the skin will not be affected by a variety of needles or surgical instruments. In this sense, this concept is applied in all areas of medicine, except aesthetic medicine. The vast majority of medical practitioners use the term noninvasive in the sense of non-surgical.
Such trend is explained by the fact that noninvasive or minimally invasive cosmetic procedures are simpler and cheaper as well as give impressive results. They are ideal for those who want to improve their appearance but do not want to be exposed to more invasive techniques since they are not only more expansive but also are associated with greater risks to health and recovery from them is quite time-consuming.
Non-surgical treatment is long-term, and even if a person has to repeat it, the skin will always look naturally beautiful because the procedure is not invasive. What is more, such people want to reach maximum results at minimal time and cost; and one plastic surgery is translated into 7-8 noninvasive procedures (2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report).
Additionally, cosmetic surgery is getting younger. According to the ASPS, every year more and more women under the age of 30 years undergo cosmetic surgery procedures. This phenomenon is not the only characteristic of the United States but also the whole of Europe (2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report).
Due to the spread of selfie that is the newest way to share own photos on social networks, people feel under pressure since everyone is trying to make own face better. According to recent research of the ASPS, a large number of consumers undergo cosmetic surgery on the face to achieve a flawless look (2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report).
Also, more than half of the surgeons noted that patients wished to have a certain procedure to remain "competitive" in the workplace. Furthermore, teenagers and young girls are now very sensitive to certain information provided by the media; thus, while looking at photos of celebrities on social networks, they want to look well.
However, most plastic surgeons assure that the effect of a noninvasive procedure generally has a shorter duration and is not as noticeable as a result of the operation. Moreover, it is still very costly and risky. Thus, the procedures:
- to fix Crow's Feet and Forehead Furrow costs near $380 per treatment, but it requires 3 months of treatment;
- to fix under-eye bags and rings or dark circles requires $750-800 per syringe;
- to remove smile and marionette lines around the nose and mouse costs $1,500 per treatment, while to reach the desired result, more than one is needed;
- the fix of age spots costs from $150-300 to $2,500-3,000 for a deep chemical peel;
- the improvement of sallow and blotchy skin costs $1,100-2,225;
- to fix jowls or a double chin, one has to spend $3,500-4,000 (Rosen).
Additionally, as cosmetic procedures become increasingly popular, people pay less attention to the risks of such procedures and make a big mistake considering popular as safe. Evidently, the huge variety of procedures and clinics providing cosmetic surgery services searched for qualified services a minefield.
The reason is that there exist a lot of clinics without licenses, insurances, and trained practitioners that increase the risk of having serious injuries (Gubbins). What is more, facial filler injections, which are the most popular now, are associated with the risks of swelling, pain, hard lumps beneath the skin, and even blindness and strokes.
Moreover, such procedures influence people psychologically. According to the research made by social worker Roberta Honigman and psychiatrists Katharine Phillips and David Castle, on the one hand, cosmetic surgery increases the patients quality of life, but on the other hand, it could contribute to negative outcomes, especially for those with unrealistic expectations or depression and anxiety (Gubbins). The researchers also claim that those who are dissatisfied with the procedure will most likely repeat the procedure or will experience depression, social isolation, family problems, self-harming, and anger on practitioners.
Integration of the Article
The New York Times published the article Noninvasive Cosmetic Surgery Can Deliver Confidence, at a Cost written by Paul Sullivan. According to the article, an increasing number of people who spend huge sums of money to look better suppose that a little procedure could positively influence their careers and improve self-image and self-assessment (Sullivan).
The article analyzes the physical and moral impact of noninvasive cosmetic surgery on people. For this purpose, it studies various researches, personal stories, and opinions of those whose life changed due to noninvasive cosmetic procedures, and the opinions of professional and skilled doctors.
First of all, noninvasive cosmetic surgery positively affects people's careers. It is especially important in the beauty business. For people who sell beauty products, it is important to look well. The article argues that in such businesses, cosmetic surgery is more a business aimed at being able to attract customers and stay competitive in the field.
Moreover, according to the research presented at the American Finance Association meeting provided in the article, the appearance of chief executives has a positive impact on companies' profits (Sullivan). However, analyzing the article, cosmetic surgery to a greater extent creates confidence in people, without directly improving their careers. Thus, before the porcelain veneers were put, the radiologist Fillip Fear, who frequently provides lectures to medical groups, was reluctant to smile and felt unconfident (Sullivan).
However, now, everything has changed since he feels happy and confident and is always smiling, thereby being attractive. Similarly, Allie Wu, the actuary at a life insurance company, is now confident going to work after the procedure (Sullivan).
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Nevertheless, there are problems too, and this is evident from what preceded the outcomes of those noninvasive cosmetic procedures. In this regard, there are risks involved in cosmetic surgery. Thus, Dr. Fear first was persuaded to put the golden crown on a tooth, thereby looking like a North Star in pictures what is not appropriate for his working field (Sullivan).
A worse situation happened with Allie Wu since after the first surgery, closing her mouse became more painful, after the second one, the nerve was damaged, as well as seven teeth were lost, while after the third operation, her teeth were misaligned and discolored, and she was emotionally down (Sullivan). Furthermore, she incurred huge costs associated with these surgeries.
Additionally, the article argues that noninvasive cosmetic procedures can be abused to the same extent as invasive cosmetic surgery (Sullivan). The reason is that such clients are required to undergo more than one treatment, thereby becoming addicted and spending increasingly more costs. What is more, they do not freeze time as invasive procedures do, which causes treatments to be redone. Moreover, the article claims that it is still important to care for oneself after the treatment, in particular, to continue brushing teeth, doing sports, and leading a healthy lifestyle (Sullivan).
Sociological Analysis of the Article
There is a range of theoretical paradigms that can contribute to the understanding of the practice of cosmetic alternation of people's bodies. The theoretical approaches help situate the practice of cosmetic surgery in contemporary society. Thus, the concept of social capital created by Pierre Bourdieu in 1980 provides a theoretical perspective that helps to understand the people's strict compliance with the beauty norms in the society and their wish to undergo cosmetic surgery procedures (Boulton).
The concept is premised on the Marxist notion of economic capital providing a detailed understanding of the influence of the capital, in particular physical, its structure, and volume on the position of individuals in the society. According to Bourdieu, the capital with its various types, including physical, is an influential weapon. The reason is in the relation between the position of individuals in the society and the structure and volume of their capital (Boulton).
The concept can be widely used in the topic of cosmetic surgery. For people in Western societies and developed countries complying with the social norms of beautiful appearance, it is a very powerful physical capital. According to Shilling, the concept of physical capital throws light on the value of a beautiful appearance in society.
In conditions when people are obsessed with the beauty of people's appearances, the acquisition of physical capital means an increase in the own value in society (Boulton). Thus, the article in The New York Times provides a great example of people being valued more in their careers after cosmetic procedures or simply for being attractive (Sullivan).
As it was stated above, there exist rewards for people who comply with the social norms of beauty. However, there are also sanctions applied to those who do not fit those social norms or do not comply with them. Thus, according to the article, people feel unsure of themselves in their careers as they are aware of the sanctions that could be applied (Sullivan). The Bourdieus theory makes clear how cosmetic surgery is used to increase the physical capital of people, regardless of gender (Boulton)
In this regard, people are culturally deceived rather than culturally aware while consciously investing in their own appearances to increase their positions in society. According to Debra Gimlin, the beautiful appearance of people is a commodity connected with the theoretical concept of Bourdieu (Boulton). Moreover, she claims that people who prefer cosmetic surgery are smart cultural negotiators understanding that their value is defined by their physical appearance.
In fact, this can be also supported by the article where Paul Sullivan, Allie Wu, and Julien Farel explain this fact and choose to undergo noninvasive cosmetic surgery procedures themselves (Sullivan). These negotiators recognize the possible returns and payoffs in the employment, thereby contributing to the greater economic capital as a result of increased physical capital.
Shilling claims that people's physicality is deeply rooted and takes part in the specific purchase and sale of labor and accumulation of various types of capital (Boulton). These aspects of the importance of appearances are confirmed in terms of the concept when talking about the production of physical capital as involved in the development of appearances in the process of gaining value in the society as well as transforming the physical capital into other forms of capital such as economic, including money and goods, cultural, including education, and social, including interrelations, and is the source of increasing inequality in the society (Boulton).
Thus, the conclusion is that physical capital is interrelated with other types of capital. Thereafter, the article describes how the alteration of people's appearances known as an increase in physical capital allowed people from different working fields to obtain other types of capital through employment opportunities. Furthermore, the article provides the example of the research that claims the physical capital of CEOs increases the stock prices of the companies (Sullivan).
However, it is necessary to take into account that not everyone can equally reach all types of capital. According to the Bourdieus theory, representations are firmly anchored in the social space, where some classes of people have better access to various forms of capital, and the differences it yields and do not, operate in the social void (Boulton). White and middle-class males and females have greater access to the economic capital that can be exchanged for the physical one by paying the huge bills for cosmetic surgery procedures.
The article supports this view by providing the examples of high costs of noninvasive cosmetic procedures that are simply unattainable for the poor (Sullivan). Thus, the middle- and upper-class people are in an advantageous position over the lower-class people in the pursuit of physical capital because the lower-class is also judged by the same social norms and standards of appearance, though they a priori cannot reach them due to the lack of economic capital. What is more, Bourdieu argues that the inequalities between the classes were not initially given, but they are created (Boulton).
Therefore, the representation of differences in physical capital between people is something that is done by people through cosmetic surgery particularly.
Confidence in people usually occurs regarding others. People often observe other people and based on this form the perception of their own appearances. The analysis of Foucault is very instructive in this field. He developed the term panopticon that is an architectural design of a prison of the 18th century where the observer could see all the other prisoners, while they were not able to see the observer or each other (Riggs).
At the same time, the prisoners did not know whether they were observed or not. Thus, they begin to self-police to be sure they look favorably at any time. This term helps to understand why people, in particular women, spend much effort, time, and costs on cosmetic procedures. The term is used as a metaphor depicting the current methods of social control. People are like Panopticon prisoners in terms of self-police that means constant control of oneself (Riggs).
Sandra Lee Bartky claims that men are constantly closely observed by women, while women are constantly closely observed by men (Boulton). Both genders feel strong pressure from society to look like an already constructed perfect image. Apparently, such pressure contributes to the assimilation of the constructed norms and values of both masculinity and femininity, making people self-police to adjust their appearances to the ideal masculine and feminine appearances.
Additionally, according to Bartky, people police each other to be and act as a proper female or male (Boulton). As a result, the assimilation of feminine and masculine norms includes insidious social control contributing to the great number of people spending much time, money, and effort on their own looks.
Moreover, if the ways of using the body and bodily habits are part of the not problematizing scope of every day, the intended impact on the body, reflective technics, being a personal conscious choice, certainly include the component of values. To describe it, it is advisable to consider Foucault's term "technologies of the self," by which is meant a certain number of operations on own bodies and souls, thoughts, actions, and ways of life to achieve the state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality (Riggs).
These technologies involve not only training specific skills but also the acquisition of appropriate attitudes to transform own life into a work that carries aesthetic values and meets certain criteria of style. Technologies of the self allow taking into account the value-motivational component of reflective techniques, avoiding interpreting the last as the only way to work on and care of the body without any awareness of the "higher" purpose.
The appeal to cosmetic surgery may carry the value component, namely commitment to the physical and spiritual beauty excellence and raise of the spirit. The pain which is an integral part of the cosmetic procedures may also be analyzed as a specific technique rooted in the history of religions, in particular Christianity (self-harm), as a path to spiritual salvation.
Moreover, people undergo cosmetic surgery procedures due to the term known as the power that can be summarized as the thing that acts through the norms of culture and society and the discourses and allows recognizing the normalizing power of the media and visual images as well as the discourses of science and medicine (Riggs). According to McLaren, power influences appearances through multiple channels (Boulton). Thereafter, in the case of cosmetic surgery, it is in a literal sense engraved into the people's bodies by the needle and other things. The power can be both repressive and productive (Riggs).
The repressive power is understood as an oppressive way of appearance control, including such disciplinary methods as constant surveillance and monitoring, categorization, and intensive training. These methods are of invasive nature that can be seen in power that is transmitted and acting on individual appearances. However, these methods are also productive, meaning they create useful and efficient people who receive much as a result of their compliance.
As a result of such docility-utility relations, here appear the docile bodies. The term can be explained as people who are subjected and utilized as well as changed and made better by something or someone that can only be achieved through a strict regime (Riggs). The relations are called so because the docile bodies become so obedient and repressed while becoming useful as a result of being both productive and subjected bodies. According to McLaren, the term power and its repressive and productive types can be transferred to cosmetic surgery that is both repressive and productive power (Boulton).
Thus, on the one hand, cosmetic surgery, despite being invasive or noninvasive, imposes oppressive social norms on peoples appearances; on the other hand, appealing to cosmetic surgery procedures can be productive for people because, in a culture obsessed with beauty norms, it is very beneficial and rewarding to comply with those norms.
On the contrary, people who do not comply with those beauty norms may be subjected to severe social sanctions. Conversely, those who do not embody correct feminine body norms may face painful social sanctions that are the punishment put on people who do not follow the established rules and norms (Riggs). Bartky claims that the absence of formal rule in the society established by the government does not mean that the sanctions will not be applied (Boulton).
Apparently, this is especially the case with women who, as a part of sanctions, lose the needed intimacy with men as well as worthy livelihood. Thus, taking into account these sanction, it is clear why people, in particularly women, opt to undergo painful cosmetic surgery practices.
Personal Evaluation of Noninvasive Cosmetic Surgery
From my point of view, the appearance of people plays a great role in today's society. People assess other people and form opinions on them on the grounds of the appearance of each other. Thereafter, noninvasive cosmetic surgery plays a very important role since it helps to look better in the eyes of others. However, I feel that the spread and growing popularity of noninvasive cosmetic procedures are a negative trend that should be someway restricted.
- First of all, the economic downturn and the low purchasing power of the majority of the population do not allow everyone to use the services of cosmetic surgery because they are very expensive. As a result, richer people are looking more beautiful in comparison to the poorer ones, who can do nothing but envy. Therefore, inequality in society deepens.
- Second, the positive outcome of cosmetic surgery procedures is largely dependent on the psychological and physical preparedness of the patient for the procedure. Cosmetic surgery should not be an attempt to change own life.
If individuals decide to undergo cosmetic procedures, they must really understand the necessity for them personally. It is not an option to do the procedure only because a boyfriend or a boss wants. People should not let anyone force them into surgery. If the person does it for a bet, most likely he or she will regret it.
I am strongly convinced that cosmetic surgery is not a panacea. It cannot replace a healthy lifestyle on which the appearance of the person is largely dependent. A cosmetologist or surgeon changing the appearance of individuals will not change their personality, will not eliminate their anxiety, and will not increase their self-esteem. The appearance is not a source of happiness. Appearance can increase self-esteem or harm it, but the true value is the person's features and mind. Thus, it is not cosmetic procedures that influence people's lives and careers, but rather their perceptions of themselves do it.
In recent years, noninvasive cosmetic surgery procedures are increasingly gaining popularity. Indeed, in a society where there is strong competition, pronounced wrinkles, facial skin laxity or other signs of aging are not only the signs of old age, but they can also be an obstacle to employment and development of a career. Moreover, this phenomenon occurs not only when a pleasing appearance is required, but also in other areas.
This fact is confirmed by the article of Paul Sullivan that was recently published in The New York Times. It tells about the growing number of noninvasive procedures that make people more confident despite the working field, thereby contributing to career advancement, though at a very high cost. However, the article also mentions the negative outcomes of noninvasive cosmetic procedures.
There exists a wide theoretical explanation in the sociology of career advancement due to cosmetic surgery. Pierre Bourdieu's concept of social capital helps to understand this issue. According to it, people use cosmetic surgery as a tool to increase their physical capital, the volume of which influences their social position, in particular employment. Additionally, the motivation of people undergoing cosmetic procedures can be explained by various social terms mainly developed by Foucault. They include:
- panopticon that means being observed not knowing about it;
- self-policing, meaning judging oneself in comparison to others;
- technologies of the self that is working on oneself to contribute value;
- power, meaning the power of media and images that are repressive and productive;
- docile bodies that mean being docile due to power, and social sanctions, meaning negative sides of having an unattractive appearance.
In conclusion, cosmetic surgery is not a solution since everything is dependent on peoples perception of themselves, their specific features, and mind. The uniqueness of individuals is the main driving force behind success in all aspects of life.