Plastic Surgery

I used to watch the show “The Hills” that Heidi Montag was on. She was a sweet, pretty girl from a small town and was friends with Lauren Conrad, the star of the show. Hollywood has some crazy standards for what stars should look like and Heidi obviously got the idea in her head that she had to be “perfect” to be accepted in that world.

The picture on the left was how she looked when she was first on TV. In the middle, she had her first plastic surgery. The last on the right is after her 10+ surgeries to get the “perfect body/face.” Honestly, I think she was pretty from the beginning. Even after the first surgery she still looked fine, but I think she went WAY too far with the final procedures she had done. She looks plastic and alien-like. I remember the episode where her mom saw Heidi for the first time since the surgery. She cried and said she didn’t even recognize her own daughter and she didn’t know the extent to how much Heidi hated her old appearance.

I remember when I saw the magazine article with the pictures above I was shocked. Heidi was pretty and the girl-next-door kind of look, but it is obvious she wanted to be more of  a sex symbol.

In the video above, Heidi is interviewed and the host asks her why she did it and she explains what the surgery was like. This interview actually saddened me because a girl who from appearance looked pretty and happy, but on the inside was so insecure with herself. She describes the struggles of the surgery but says it was worth it because she is happy with the look now. She said she read blogs about people trashing her appearance and she definitely took it to heart because she went through such a dramatic change that was brought on by the critics of Hollywood.

I also found a website called: http://www.celebcosmeticsurgery.com/ where a doctor who specializes in plastic surgery posts blogs about celebrities and critiques their surgery. It was an interesting website because he has a lot of pictures and also describes the different procedures. He even has Heidi on the list of worst plastic surgeries done in 2010 saying she had too much done and she is too young, which I agree with.

In our society, we seem to put celebrities on a pedestal, that they are not normal or just another human-being. There is a section in a tabloid magazine called “stars, they’re just like us” where they have pictures of celebrities getting groceries and other “normal” things because we have the idea that celebrities are so distant they couldn’t possibly do things “regular” people do. These pressures for our celebrities to be perfect definitely had an effect on Heidi’s self-esteem and the way she perceived people watching the show to feel about her. Learning more about Heidi’s surgery reminded me a show that used to be on MTV called “I Want a Famous Face.” In the show, young people would document their transformation to look like a celebrity through plastic surgery. In the video below, another girl who seems pretty and in good shape wants plastic surgery to be thinner and have bigger boobs. After the surgery, she complains that she doesn’t like the way people perceive her now with the new huge breasts. This ideal of what a beautiful person should look like and how Hollywood makes all the celebrities look flawless at all times makes people looking up to them feel not good enough. Some go to the extent of surgery, where you are not even guaranteed to feel satisfied with yourself, but there is no turning back. I think it is crazy to think that in the video, the girl spent $15,ooo to make a completely unnecessary and irreversible change to her body.

I am not against plastic surgery completely, but when people like Heidi and the girl from the clip below make changes that are unnecessary and risk their lives for beauty, I think it is extreme. I think the way our society has made the cookie cutter form of beauty, it excludes a lot of people and some go far lengths to try to fit that ideal. These videos show that both Hollywood and real life people both feel the pressure from society to be “perfect.” 

 I read an article by Elizabeth Haiken where she describes how plastic surgery has evolved in American society. It was a very interesting article because she talks about how in the twentieth century we became a more “visual” culture where aging and imperfections were less accepted. We are taught that beauty is a certain way and cosmetic surgery is a rapidly growing industry as people try to fit in with those ideals. A very interesting point she brought up is that the face shapes our individual identity, and plastic surgery destroy that. I never really thought about it that way because basically everyone has different facial features and surgery changes that uniqueness. In advertisements it is usually the same kind of people who are in good shape and good-looking. When the media keeps showing us the same ideals, it is easy to get caught up in what you “should” look like.

I think Heidi’s story should be a good example to why our society should stop glorifying the stick-thin “perfect” Hollywood glamour because the steps it takes them to look that way are extremely unrealistic for the regular person. Of course I have things I would like to change like everyone else, but I have accepted that this is the way I am and I have no reason to waste my money and risk my health to look more “beautiful” to the Hollywood standard. I wish more people would think about what they are doing to themselves before going under the knife and forever changing their lives.

Article Source:

Haiken, E. (2000). The Making of the Modern Face: Cosmetic Surgery. Social Research, 67(1), 81-97. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

 

The “Self” and Society

Symbolic Interaction

Source:

– Carlson, Don; Chalfin, Julie; Faith, Myles; Gadon, Orly; Johnson, Craig; Southwick, Sarah. (2002). Self-reference and group membership: evidence for a group-reference effect. European Journal of Social Psychology, 32(2), 261-274. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=e0cbda9d-3f89-4d0d-8f2c-2d0b11c460f2%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=108

-Goffman, Erving. (1973). Performances. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. The Overlook Press, 41, 249-254. Link: http://csuci.blackboard.com/courses/1/2112_SOC_100_01_1039/content/_533143_1/Goffman-Performances+~.pdf?bsession=7353802&bsession_str=session_id=7353802,user_id_pk1=20740,user_id_sos_id_pk2=1,one_time_token=

-Rothman, Barbara Katz. (1981). Symbolic Interaction. In Labor: Women and Power in the Birthplace, W. Norton. 151-165. http://csuci.blackboard.com/courses/1/2112_SOC_100_01_1039/content/_533145_1/Rothman-Symbolic%20interaction+~.pdf?bsession=7375627&bsession_str=session_id=7375627,user_id_pk1=20740,user_id_sos_id_pk2=1,one_time_token=

I had never heard the term symbolic interaction before, and I found the concept to be really interesting. It focuses on humans and how we act in society. One thing that particularly interested me in class was when we discussed animal interactions vs. human interaction. Humans choose their words while animals use gestures. Both are trying to get a message across, but humans have intention and we choose specific words. This topic was brought about by George Mead who would say that we have no “self” without language which is interaction. It’s funny how we are shaped by the world around us and if we were in social isolation, we would acquire a very different “self” than when we are interacting with people. The self is a product of behavior and is a process. One concept related to the “self” is reference groups meaning that the different perspectives we face give meaning to our lives.

This shows how we have many social selves and each interaction makes us see ourselves in a different way. In the other article I found by the multiple authors, they also discussed this idea of being shaped by groups and people around us. They described how we self-categorize and see ourselves a certain way, but also social encounters shape our identities. It is weird to think that every person you interact with each day changes your life and it can be slight or dramatic. I know certain conversations I have can change the course of my day and the way I do things in the future. This also relates to a previous article I discussed by Goffman, because he talks about how we put on performances and act different ways in social situations. In the symbolic interactions article it discussed how in the flow of normal conversation we can stick to how we thought it would end up or change our “performance.” I thought this was a really interesting concept because I know sometimes I will think of things to talk about and how to react to certain occurrences, but of course when you are in the situation it won’t occur exactly how you imagined it.

I found these articles to be informative and made me think more about the idea of a “self” and how it is something we acquire not something we are born with. What we experience in social context affects how the self develops and these interactions are very important. This is the concept of socialization which refers to how we become a part of society and how we take on roles to be a part of society. The people we interact with define our roles and the self we develop. The Rothman article discussed how “socialization is not the manipulation or modification of the person, but the ongoing creation of the person” (168) and that we are active participants in this. We learn from society but also we modify it and make our lives fit with the world around us. The articles discussed identities and how they are shaped by the interactions we experience each day.