Today I walked into the bedroom and into an episode of Dr. 90210, a show following doctors performing plastic surgery. I watch the show from time to time if I’m folding laundry and absolutely nothing else is on. Sometimes the patients are compelling such as when Dr. Rey travels to Mexico to help kids with severe deformities and in urgent need of surgery to alleviate their pain and/or disfiguration. But mostly the show is about beautiful people striving to become more beautiful. I admit I have little sympathy for a beautiful blonde bombshell weeping before the camera that her lips just aren’t pouty like Angelina Jolie’s and her bottom isn’t the exact shape of J-Lo’s.
However, what irked me today was the statement Dr. Rey made to a patient undergoing plastic surgery “Now you won’t be an ugly duckling anymore!” My jaw dropped. First, the girl was not in any way ugly, though the lack of self esteem was clear upon her face. Second, he just called her UGLY! Fine, she wants to be prettier, but should a doctor chime in to confirm her defeated self image?
There was a time when plastic surgery was spoken of in hushed voices. Shows like these make plastic surgery seem normal, desirable, the thing to do and their effect is resulting in higher rates of plastic surgery. Is it responsible to show 100% happy customers 100% of the time with no side effects or problems? There is a darker side to plastic surgery and the fact that none of these shows really talk about that reminds me of shady side effects swept under the rug by drug manufactures such as “Requip- helps restless leg” and as images of happy restful legged people prance through the screen a hurried voice reads the side effects dismissively such as how Requip can cause the random urge to gamble? But aside from the physical side effects that can happen, what about the emotional consequences? People can get addicted to plastic surgery, and plastic surgery is SURGERY, not without complications. Instead of a society encouraging women to respect themselves and their unique beauty and to ignore the assault by the media of the adulation of youth, instead of telling women to not fall into depression and anorexia because they don’t look like airbrushed Victoria Secret ads, society is instead encouraging new ways to get that uniform look? What does that say about us?
Sadder still: How will the daughter whose mom paid $10,000 to obliterate and refigure a nose feel about her own identical nose? What will that tell her about who she is?