Very few women who get cosmetic surgery are praised for it.
In fact, when a woman reveals that she has had cosmetic surgery, she is automatically attacked for being vain and fake. If a woman has some work done on her face or body, she is immediately deemed as having no brains and caring solely about her appearance, as if she only has the ability to read an encyclopedia or apply foundation and chose the latter. When it comes to women, there are only extremes, and the second she makes one decision, it defines her publicly for a long time.
Iggy Azalea spoke to this in many recent interviews regarding her cosmetic surgery, in which she discussed her rhinoplasty and breast augmentation (nose job and boob job). She told Elle Canada that she has no problem going public with her procedures rather than denying them, but asks,“For how long do we have to acknowledge that I got a nose job? For the rest of my life? Am I going to be 45 and people are still saying ‘Nice nose job’?’” When a society stigmatizes cosmetic surgery so heavily, does the constant mentioning of it concerning a woman who had something done once in her life act as a way to shame her consistently?
The body positivity movement has become more prominent recently, however plastic surgery may not have found its place in it just yet. Body positivity focuses on loving one’s body the way it is, without letting Hollywood beauty standards make women feel that they have to be a certain shape to be beautiful. It promotes a life without Photoshop and embracing natural beauty to spread the message that nobody looks as perfect as the girl on the magazine cover. Obviously, plastic surgery would be considered the real-life Photoshop, and goes against body positivity, right? Plastic surgery is anti-feminist because it encourages women to alter their appearance to gain a positive response, right?
Maybe not. In talking about her cosmetic surgery, Iggy Azalea also mentioned that while the body positivity movement encourages women to love their body the way it is, why does the assumption have to be that a woman has cosmetic surgery to look like somebody else, rather than because she wants to look a certain way for herself? If a woman is supposed to feel confident with who she is, why is she not allowed to alter her appearance surgically in order to feel more confident about herself? If cosmetic surgery is helping a woman embrace how she looks and love herself more, it shouldn’t be considered anti-feminist.
Why is plastic surgery any different from dental procedures such as getting braces to make teeth straighter? While that is considered a norm for people with crooked teeth who can afford dental care, plastic surgery is seen as an external expense. How come every woman who enters an orthodontist’s office isn’t targeted as being anti-body positive?
I have been in the dentist’s chair for over half my life, and I am only 20. I had braces for over seven years. When I was 18 I, too, went under the knife and had corrective jaw surgery to extend my lower jaw, which had failed to grow fully, as well as bring my entire jaw and chin forward. I didn’t do this because I wanted to, but because my orthodontist told me that if I didn’t I would be in extreme pain for the rest of my adult life (I was already suffering headaches and had problems chewing).
My surgery is considered a medical procedure because its intention was to improve the function of my jaw. Therefore, nobody criticized me for having it done, but instead applauded me. Since plastic surgery sometimes doesn’t serve to improve function and is aesthetic, it doesn’t get this kind of reception. However, the corrective jaw surgery also significantly improved how I look, and gave me more defined facial features that would socially be considered more beautiful than I was pre-surgery.
Iggy Azalea had her chin extended and was criticized, and I had mine extended and was praised. Does this mean that Iggy Azalea isn’t a feminist because she wanted to look pretty, but I am because I wanted a healthier jaw? Since I didn’t go in wanting to look prettier, I did nothing wrong, however I came out caring more about my defined cheekbones and sharper jawline than whether or not I could chew. So do I hate myself or not? Am I a feminist or not?
In the end, people always seem to forget that feminism is about a woman’s right to choose to do whatever she wants in her personal life or with her body without others controlling her. If a woman wants to get cosmetic surgery, it does not make her any less of a feminist than any other woman who embraces her natural body. If plastic surgery helps a woman feel more body positive than before, than stopping her or shaming her is just as bad in any other situation.
Criticizing plastic surgery is another form of body shaming, and feminism should not be inclusive of one form of body type and exclusive of all the others, whether or not they are natural or surgically altered.
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