In the world of aesthetic medicine and cosmetic surgery, we deal with beauty concerns on a daily basis. If we are being honest, the world can be cruel to men and women of all ages. Seemingly impossible beauty standards don’t just exist, but they are being shoved down our throats via films, print ads, and social media. This begs the question: how can we separate individual beauty vs. the beauty standards put forth in the outside world?
Today, we will discuss this issue by reviewing modern society’s more inclusive beauty standards, the dark side of social media beauty standards, the definition of individual beauty, and finally how all of this pertains to cosmetic procedures.
A More Inclusive Beauty Standard in 2020
Before we go full doom and gloom, we should first review some good news. Thanks to societal shifts, the idea of personal beauty is now more inclusive than ever in America. In the past, uncontrollable personal traits such as height, skin color, hair type, and more have been considered either “in” or “out”. There are innumerable reasons for this shift, but there is no denying that the sometimes cruel world of the internet actually receives a fair share of the credit for this positive change.
Social media and other online platforms have been given previously marginalized individuals and groups a platform to voice their opinions, create their own content, and form ad hoc communities. This atmosphere of support for different beauty standards has, in fact, become the standard. This positive attitude is a great start, but as we will explore, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Complicated Reality of Social Media and Beauty
Most of us are familiar with Instagram vs. reality type posts showing the difference between highly touched up, edited, and staged photos vs. how men and women really look. Social media may be a supportive place for young people in spirit, but the reality is extremely complicated. Impressionable young people scrolling through seemingly endless supplies of seemingly impossibly beautiful people can be psychologically damaging. In fact: “ A systematic review of 20 papers published in 2016 found that photo-based activities, like scrolling through Instagram or posting pictures of yourself, were a particular problem when it came to negative thoughts about your body.”
That second component is critical as well, as self-posting to a public forum has led to many well-documented cases ranging from self-confidence issues to flat out bullying. Social media also bridges a very specific gap between our real lives and the fantastical lives of celebrities. This dynamic creates a reality where we can also begin to see our friends and family members as having more glamorous lives than they truly do.
The Definition of Individual Beauty
Individual beauty, by definition, differs with each individual. Beauty can be defined as, “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit” or as, “a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality.” If that cleared up absolutely nothing for you, you aren’t alone. Personal beauty is one of the most mercurial concepts known to humanity.
This is precisely why we are so susceptible to outside influences when it comes to beauty. It is virtually impossible to feel completely confident in one’s own beauty; instead, we rely on what we see in others and what we hear from others.
Beauty Image and Cosmetic Surgery
Beauty standards are part of our industry. Many individuals seek out plastic surgery and/or non-invasive cosmetic procedures for a simple reason: they want to feel better about themselves. The crux of this lack of self-confidence frequently stems from a feeling of inadequacy when comparing their personal beauty to the current beauty standards. Research shows that in many cases plastic surgery does not boost self-esteem. So what should we tell our patients who feel inadequate?
As cosmetic practitioners, we can use this knowledge to our advantage by speaking frankly with our patients above their goals and their attitudes towards cosmetic procedures. In many cases, discussing these issues ahead of time and setting realistic expectations yield real dividends. Cosmetic procedures may not be a guaranteed boost in confidence, but they do offer the ability to take control of one’s life in a positive way!
Join us for SCALE 2020 to Discuss Beauty and Cosmetic Procedures
To learn more about beauty trends, beauty theory, non-invasive procedures, laser tech, and much more, join us from July 22-25, 2020 for our annual Music City Scale Conference! SCALE is the premier multidisciplinary meeting for aesthetic medicine, surgery and dermatology in the United States. Join other industry professionals to discuss industry trends, emerging technologies, and much more.
What started as a small gathering amongst colleagues 14 years ago has turned into the biggest party of the year within the field of aesthetic dermatology. Join us alongside hundreds of attendees and industry vendors to find out what you’ve been missing!
2020 Exhibitors & Sponsors