Cosmetic surgery should not carry negative stigma

Opinions Columnist | Public relations freshman

The negative stereotypes that exist for those who choose to undergo plastic surgery are unfortunate and unfair—contrary to popular belief, plastic surgery is not simply for the vain, self-centered or mentally unwell.

Too much of anything is of course a bad thing, and plastic surgery is no exception. In small doses, however, it can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, the consumer should be in charge of whatever they decide to purchase and should be able to do so without judgment.

The idea that vanity is the only reason for plastic surgery is simply untrue. That said, I am not going to say vanity is not the main driving factor of the industry—I am simply saying the overarching negative stigma associated with plastic surgery is unwarranted. Furthermore, if someone engages in cosmetic surgery for vain reasons, I do not think they should be judged the way they currently are in mainstream culture.

When it comes to birth defects or deformations, plastic surgery has been a remedy for many. It can correct anything from a deviated septum caused from compression of the nose during birth to deformities caused by chemical burns. Plastic surgery was the saving grace for Charla Nash, the woman who had her face literally ripped off by an enraged chimpanzee in 2009. To say that all plastic surgery is done for vain reasons is an oversimplification.

Another type of beneficial plastic surgery is a breast reduction. Having size GGG breasts may be fun for some, but an oversized bosom can lead to back trauma and bad posture. A simple cosmetic procedure can turn a woman from the Hunchback of Notre Dame into a knockout supermodel with perfect poise and posture.

The benefits of plastic surgery are varied and go beyond the extreme situations I have mentioned so far, however. Plastic surgery also can help promote a positive self-image in patients and can lead to increased confidence—two things which are essential to a happy life.

Pinning down those floppy ears, tucking that potbelly or even just getting a little Botox to decrease those laugh lines can make a world of difference to someone’s self-image. Beyoncé said it best— everyone’s aspiration in life is to be happy. No one should judge what makes other people happy.

I understand why plastic surgery is controversial. I understand why some say those who pursue cosmetic surgery need to learn to be happy with what is naturally theirs, but what someone does with their money is no one else’s business. Plastic surgery may be a more permanent solution than hair extensions, dye-jobs, make-up, body shapers and colored contact lenses, but it is all the same. There are few people in our society who present themselves as they naturally are, and people who undergo cosmetic surgery should not be shamed any more than a person who chooses to wear make-up or use other appearance-altering products.

Individuals should not be shamed for doing something that makes them happy and harms no one. That said, everything is a virtue in moderation. Excessive surgery and modifications can be extremely unhealthy, and I am not trying to promote that. All I am saying is that no one has the right to judge someone else for their personal decisions regarding their appearance.  

Americans are promised three things—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What someone else sees as happiness, provided it does no one else any harm, should not have to be subjected to stigmatization—plastic surgery included.