If you’ve been fortunate enough to watch the movie “White Chicks,” I hope you deem my take on what I call “the dressing room scene” to be fitting. A quick Youtube search for “White Chicks dressing room” brings up the one-minute video that causes me both hysterics and anguish every time I watch it. In the scene, one character, Lisa, has a full-on meltdown while trying on clothes. Despite her slim, athletic build, Lisa grabs the slightest bits of extra flesh on her body, referring to each with different names like “Cellulite Sally,” “Backfat Betty” and the infamous “Tina the Talking Tummy.”
Though Lisa may seem possessed by some unrelenting demon of body dysmorphia, this is by no means an isolated experience. The topic of illusory body image is one that has been frequently evaluated and discussed. One severe outcome of this internal affliction with one’s own body can involve a journey under the knife of a plastic surgeon.
Like most body augmentations, the end goal is typically a natural look, as if the person never underwent any type of procedure. While this is by all means a realistic expectation, it must be also be acknowledged that certain physical characteristics do not occur naturally. Yet, these artificial standards are highly sought after.
The most notable real-world example of this paradox is the case of Kylie Jenner. Her Instagram is riddled with shots giving various angles of her curvy, robust hips and rear end that sit all-too-perfectly between her minuscule waist and slim legs. Endless comments flood in below the picture, calling her #BodyGoals. Despite her relentless denial of rumors surrounding her seemingly overnight transformation, claiming she “got a little chunkier,” many professionals have agreed that Kylie actually underwent multiple plastic surgeries.
While the slightest degree of doubt will always remain, various surgeons have arrived at the conclusion that Kylie’s hourglass, pear-shaped figure is the work of medical magic rather than a few extra calories in her meals. This is the ultimate form of deceit because it not only perpetuates an inconceivable #BodyGoal, but leaves everyone wondering why they can’t achieve this same result with simply an altered diet.
Society’s current era of “post-modern beauty” expects women to have large hips and breasts while also maintaining a flat stomach and a large gap between their thighs. Coming off of the “heroin chic” era of the 1990s, this may seem like a slightly less harmful ideal for what we consider the “perfect body.” However, trends and fads so frequently change that it may at times seem hard to keep up.
That being said, feeling obligated to conform to a trend that requires physical alterations can be toxic. This is how plastic surgery addicts are created — those who feel as if they need to continue undergoing procedures in order to reach an unattainable version of beauty. While these decisions can be considered reversible, given that there are procedures to “undo” previous ones, it is impossible to completely erase the effects of plastic surgery on people’s self image.
I must make clear that I have no personal vendetta against plastic surgery. I believe it has its purpose and its place within our society. I believe that everyone should feel confident about themselves and has every right to pursue that in whatever way they feel necessary. However, I do not believe that “back-to-school surgery” should be a trend among college-bound students. I do not believe that a student in medical school should have lost her life last year in pursuit of larger lips. With one survey reaching the conclusion that the 18 to 24 age group will eventually be the most likely to consider plastic surgery, the long-term effects of these lifestyle choices must be taken into consideration when deciding whether these are true #BodyGoals or just outcomes of everyone’s inner Lisa.
Savanna Vidal is a sophomore majoring in biology.