The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Beautiful People–Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever, and it seems like more and more people will continue to alter their bodies with medical aid. Some say it is unnatural and wrong, others that it accentuates the human form. Whatever your opinion we thought we at The TORCH thought we would get together to help settle the dispute.


† † Point by

Thomas Winnegar, Editorial Page Editor

It is a fundamental right of all people to exert control over their own bodies. No alteration, however needless or bizarre, lies outside of their range of options, nor should it. However, simply having an option doesn’t mean that exercising it is a good idea.

The concern is not corrective surgery used to reconstruct a burn victim’s face or to mend a disfigured form. It is instead the unnecessary and destructive pursuit of the perfect nose, ears, lips, eyes, hips, ankles or any other body part, facilitated by a surgeon-beautician’s knife. In a country where bulimia and Adonis complexes are becoming commonplace, how can the willingness to undergo such elective cosmetic procedures not be seen as indicative of a deeper problem?

The argument goes that people are judged first by their physical appearance, and so an attempt to improve that first impression is only reasonable in a fast-paced, success-oriented culture like ours.

But cosmetic plastic surgery is more than just an adaptation for advancement. It is more than putting on makeup or a well-tailored suit. It is a painful, bloody, and permanent alteration to fit an artificial and ever-changing ideal, and that is not something to be taken lightly. It is literally buying into a vain and superficial culture at great personal cost, and as with any surgery, it carries with it at least some risk to health.

That is not to say that there are no advantages to being beautiful. Studies have shown that good looking people are treated better. Good-looking people are hired sooner. Good looking people are more respected and likely to be promoted. This seems to be proof positive that cosmetic plastic surgery is a wise choice.

Except, replacing the words “good looking” with “white” doesn’t change the veracity of those sentences. That is an important point, as there is also evidence that what is considered good-looking in the United States is to a large extent determined by a Caucasian standard of beauty. It illustrates the fact that bowing to the shifting views of the masses is not necessarily a healthy impulse, but rather the flaw of our society’s pressure towards assimilation.

We have gorged ourselves on image. Mass produced music with insipid lyrics sells millions of CDs because the singer looks hot in a swimsuit. Teen magazines are little more than beauty primers, ready to condition another generation into the mindless cult of appearance. A look modeled off of plastic dolls ironically turns the devoted to plastic themselves. Changing their bodies is their right, but that does not make the decision to do so healthy or good.

No number of facelifts, no quantity of liposuction, no tummy tucks or implants can change anything beyond perceptions. The core of a personality and quality of character–true signs of worth–are not so easily purchased as a dimpled cheek or Bambi nose. People can spend thousands of dollars slashing at skin and reshaping bones, hoping to wake up and love what they see in the mirror at last, but the knife will not bring out any charms that were not already present.

Counter-Point by

Frank DeBellis

“Being good looking is no longer optional. There is no place in the world for women who are not. Competition is so keen and the world moves so fast that we simply can’t afford not to sell ourselves on sight.” – Dr. Elizabeth Haiken “Venus Envy.”

As American culture places more value on the importance of aesthetics, citizens attempt to attain a level of ideal physical beauty. Both adults and adolescents yearn to mend the physical flaws they believe they have. Men and women often want to enhance their features so that they appear, according to the standards society sets, to be glamorous.

Americans often watch the Academy Awards not to see who wins the award, but to see what the actors look like. Will Tom Cruise still have the same boyish charm and will Jennifer Lopez wear another scandalous dress? People are constantly coming under attack from others who criticize their appearance. Many resort to cosmetic surgery because they do not want to be ostracized because of their awkward features. Cosmetic surgery patients have healthy desires and do not need to look like pop icons.

Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape or restore normal structures of the body to improve appearance or self-esteem. Though cosmetic surgery only deals with aesthetics, it has a great impact on the person. Without cosmetic surgery, many people would avoid social interaction due to their lack of self-confidence. There are countless emotional benefits to cosmetic surgery.

Haiken points out that “emphasis in our society on the beautiful has become so extreme that there is little surprise in social circles when a teen-aged girl just recently committed suicide because she was flat-chested.” Young women may be morose and avoid typical social situations because they feel that they have an under or overdeveloped chest. These physical conditions place a handicap on an individual’s personality. Breast implants or breast reduction can dramatically improve way a woman lives since she will gain a different image of her body.

A young woman can have liposuction rather than becoming an anorexic or bulimic. A young man can have a nose job to stop people from mocking him in the corridors of his high school. Cosmetic surgery allows a person to not only correct the physical flaws he believes he has, but also reduces ridicule he may encounter in school or at work. After surgery, a person is less preoccupied with the aesthetics of his face and better able to occupy his mind with more important conflicts brought about by society.

Both genders and members of all age groups, races and socioeconomic groups undergo cosmetic surgery. It is imperative that American society no longer expresses disdainful comments to cosmetic surgery since it enables a countless amount of people to develop into confident and social citizens.

A young woman need not have cosmetic surgery to alter her Barbara Streisand nose, or her Rosanne stomach, nor must she have a flawless figure and look like Britney Spears. It is simply inevitable that the concept of beauty will continue to be an important aspect in American culture. It is also undeniable that cosmetic surgery helps people build their self-respect and it allows them to be welcomed into a society where being beautiful is vital.

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