Body modification is nothing new, just the methods and ideals we strive for. Ancient Romans put poisonous belladonna drops into their eyes to dilate their pupils, ancient Indian doctors perfected a strategy for creating new noses for adulterers who had theirs cut off, and European and American doctors crafted nose and ear replacements for those lost in the World Wars or accidents. Now modern medicine is allowing those beauty ideals to evolve faster and become more extreme. Forget Greeks who fell in love with marble statues of women – these days, we’re turning the women into the statues.
A new, fringe trend is mimicking living dolls. The appeal of dolls appears to be men can have all the beauty without the hassle or potential rejection of a human woman (hence the growing market for anatomically correct sex dolls). These living dolls modify their bodies to mimic the appeal of the dolls, who were created to mimic humans. They are becoming famous for their extensive makeup and body modification to look like Barbie and Ken (who are apparently NOT interested in each other), Japanese anime characters, and other pop culture icons.
Then there are the other “living dolls” – men who wear plastic female faces and bodies. The Onion had a little fun with a related concept when they advertised a product for women who just want to roll out of bed and put on their “latex polymer beauty masks molded to acceptable standards of beauty”.
Perhaps the growing acceptance and promotion of plastic surgery to highly stylized ideals is thanks in part to the export of South Korean K-Pop, Brazilian beach body culture, Ukrainian living dolls and other beauty-obsessed cultures’ love of plastic surgery (previously blogged about here). Are we seeing a globalized monoculture of super-stylized beauty?
Plastic surgery is now so prevalent and acceptable that it’s common practice for staid politicians, executives, and other professionals with an eye on the up and coming generation get a little nip and tuck to ensure continued relevance. Every year sets a new record for number of cosmetic procedures undergone by an increasingly willing population. In 2013, there was a 12 percent increase in the number of cosmetic surgeries being performed in the U.S. That meant 11 million surgical and nonsurgical procedures costing more than $12 billion.
Is it worth it?
The type of person who wants to get plastic surgery tends to feels better about that specific body part and their appearance overall after having it (as compared to people who never expressed any interest in cosmetic surgery), according to a recent study that looked at post-op patients three, six, and twelve months after their operations. However, other studies have found that plastic surgery patients do not experience any great surge in happiness or satisfaction with their lives over time.
Where is the line between a subtle refresher, cosmetic surgery, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and old fashioned narcissism and self obsession? It’s getting harder to define.
Latex polymer beauty mask anyone?