Is Social Media Changing Our Perception of Beauty?
Are beauty standards getting harder to fulfill?
Since the rise of the Kardashian/Jenner family after the infamous sex tape, cosmetic surgery in the UK has seen a 73 percent referral to images of the Kardashian/Jenner sisters. After Kylie Jenner made her statement confirming she had lip fillers, cosmetic surgeons saw a 700 percent request for plumper lips. Has social media really increased beauty expectations? Has the use of cosmetic surgery gone up? Or has the advancement of technology just made everything easier to obtain?
The first recorded case of cosmetic surgery was 3000 to 2500 BC and was for reconstructive nose surgery—the Egyptians clearly did not want a hooked nose. There are also other recorded cases in 800 BC India, and by 1794 AD, British physicians had travelled to India to see a rhinoplasty performed by Indian doctors—stealing yet again.
Humans have always been concerned about their physical appearance; it is my belief that it is simply human nature. In the 17th and 18th century, the fashionable skin colour in Europe was palest white as it suggested wealth and idleness, rather than having to labour in the fields and get sunburnt. Nobility would paint their face white with lead paint, often leading skin corrosion and death from lead poisoning.
There has always been influence making people want to change their appearance. Marilyn Monroe, a woman people praise for 'real beauty' had several cosmetic surgeries. She had a nose job, hairline electrolysis to change the shape of her face, cartilage implant in her chin, a boob job, and her overbite fixed and false teeth. People do not realise the commonness of cosmetic surgery, in 2016, there were 1.8 million invasive (breast implant, liposuction) surgeries and 15.5 million non-invasive (Botox, chemical peels) surgeries in the US alone.
Of course, cosmetic surgery has increased as there have been drastic medical advancements since 3000 BC, but there have always been beauty standards that women and men strive to achieve. In Ancient Greece, unibrows and bleached curly hair was considered attractive, so naturally people drew on unibrows and put lemon and vinegar in their hair. In Renaissance Italy, they loved high foreheads, so people shaved their hairline. The Edwardian era saw a rise in hourglass figures, however, in the 1920s, a slim, boyish figure was classed as desirable.
Beauty standards and our perception of beauty has always been present, I cannot deny that social media has definitely advertised the ideal man or women more than they would have in Ancient Egypt—although I heard Cleopatra was hot—but beauty standards will always be present. To me, cosmetic surgery is not something that should be viewed as negative or something that should be slandered, I myself am planning to have £3,000 nose installed, to boost my confidence that was knocked by years of bullying at school. Cosmetic surgery can help people with self esteem, it can grow confidence so people feel like they can tackle to world. However, I do acknowledge it can be harmful, there have been deaths due to dangerous procedures, I have watched Botched and I have seen it all—that's why if you are planning to have cosmetic surgery, you should have it done by trained professionals with years of experience—I definitely wouldn't opt for the cheapest in this case.
It is my belief that people should challenge beauty standards more often. I wish there were more hooked noses in the media because maybe I'd be happy with mine, or more images of models with acne so that myself, along with millions of others would not feel so conscious, I wish there were equal representations of race, sexuality, genders instead of what people saw as 'normal'—Plain Jane and John. Normal is boring, challenge beauty standards.