Are Cosmetic Surgeries Un-Feminist? A Feminist Discourse On Internet’s Hot Topic

How does the desire to be beautiful through elective cosmetic procedures fare when viewed from a feminist lens?

Internet is ablaze with sharp takes on influencers and models’ choices of getting cosmetic procedures and calling it an act of ‘personal agency’.

The discourse is if the women who call themselves informed feminists are falling victim to the traps of beauty standards set largely by an unfair society, then who do the rest of us have left to look up to?

Since we are often swayed by our emotions rather than logic on the internet, it is important to take note of all perspectives and information at hand before we go around gifting the big red ‘A’ to every woman making questionable choices on the internet.

Hear me out, I am not saying the women in question are right or that the internet is wrong, but it is important that we, the people, allow this conversation to evolve beyond the tags of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to ‘how’ and ‘why’.

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Why Do We Feel Let Down?

The Internet is a great place for celebrities to create personas and people as their audience tends to fall for those characters, and believe and adore them. When these facades crack a little bit, revealing their follies, insecurities, and hypocrisies, we feel deceived.

It is a natural reaction, but we do need to remember that while celebrities are public figures, they aren’t public representatives. And even though they should be held accountable when they step out of the line of civility, they can’t be considered public servants. Celebrities seek our validation, but they don’t exist to serve us.

Here’s a larger question to ponder over, should we bother about individual celebrity surgeries, or should we care about the systems in place (social media and medical) that allow these trends to proliferate with such impunity?

Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels

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Are Surgeries Un-feminist Or Unprogressive?

It’s a tricky one and no one has the perfect answer to this. At the core of feminism lies equality for all. Can a person believe in feminism while getting cosmetic surgeries? Well, believing in a principle doesn’t cure us of our insecurities. But let’s face it, there is a stink of hypocrisy in that.

However, the true reason why we consider this act to be blasphemous is because of its trickle-down psychological effect on younger people.

But is this all that’s affecting our young?

Concept of beauty is a social construct

This conversation needs a sharper look at our social construct of beauty and the concept of ‘beauty sickness’.  Renowned psychologist, Dr Renee Engeln defines beauty sickness as the outcome when an individual’s complete time, energy, emotion, and money are dedicated to perfecting their appearance rather than things like vocation or hobbies.

While celebrities are fiddling with their appearances for personal gains, impressionable young people are getting afflicted with beauty sickness. More than ever, ordinary young women are spending exorbitant amounts of money on honing their appearances rather than their skills. Thanks to social media, the insatiable need for physical perfection has also been democratized in addition to the access to beauty products.

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Disservice or Infallibility?

The waves of feminism have been around for over half a century, and yet, we have fallen deeper into the trenches of societal constructs of beauty. And even though I don’t think individual celebrities should be trolled or abused for their choices, it is important to acknowledge that their actions do take us back a few steps in our journey of progress.

As this discourse evolves, we must delineate these choices as complex individual fallibility, encouraged by a capitalist framework, rather than a disservice to feminism itself. One can argue that sometimes one’s choice to make a decision, right or wrong, is where our freedom lies. This may not be true for all, but it is undoubtedly true for some.

The chase will keep on happening. The internet mobs will continue to create and tear down ‘individuals’, while the system keeps the cycle going. However, when the noise becomes white noise, we the people, should pause and ask ourselves, what are we losing in this cavalier cacophony of celebrity culture?

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