Do Millennials Have A Stigma When It Comes To Plastic Surgery?
By Eileen Spatz
Ahhh, the trendsetters of yesteryear. Gone are the days when people like Twiggy started the monster eyelash trend in the 60s or Brook Shields started the 80s bushy brow trend. Heck, even a 90s style maven like “Carrie Bradshaw” of Sex and the City inspired trends simply donning eclectic outfit mash-ups with those Monolo Blahniks. Fashion trendsetters of the past weren’t openly influencing their fawning fans to go under the knife to get their signature looks, they were just sporting innovative styles and if they caught on, cool.
Today’s trendsetters are social media influencers, pop celebrities with millions of followers that wait with baited breath for their idol’s next filtered selfie to pop up on their feed. The trends these celebs now promote go far beyond simply introducing a new make-up technique or hairstyle. No, these influencers openly flaunt their recent trips to their plastic surgeon’s office for Botox, lip fillers, breast augmentation, nose jobs, and liposuction.
A recent Zalea survey of millennial attitudes and practices regarding cosmetic procedures highlights just how effective the celebrity culture is in influencing their decisions. When asked to rank various sources of influence in trying a cosmetic procedure, yep, you guessed it, the responses fell heavily in favor of social media influencers, social networks i.e., Instagram, and celebrity endorsements.
What Once Was Taboo…
Historically, people who accessed the tools and talents of a cosmetic surgeon kept it on the down low. Even as recent as ten years ago the age-old taboo kept one’s clandestine visits to the plastic surgeon a highly guarded secret. They preferred that friends and colleagues just assume they had acquired their rosy glow from a recent trip to the Caribbean. Admitting to an eye lift or a facelift was rare. Patients kept the plastic surgery facts close to the vest, hoping that by pretending nothing whatsoever had been altered on their face or body that acquaintances would just envy their “natural” beauty.
Enter the era of the smart phone, roughly a decade ago. It wasn’t long before people discovered the fun in snapping selfies and posting them on Facebook—making hedonism and voyeurism a socially acceptable pastime. As new social media platforms and apps evolved, the selfie became a cultural icon. With new filters and editing tools that can instantly transform a blah pic of oneself into that of a glowing ethereal goddess, people started growing accustomed to their filtered version of self.
…Is Now Plastered Across Social Media
Celebrities stormed the feeds of Instagram and Twitter, accumulating thousands, even millions, of followers. A young celebrity will attract a young demographic, so someone like Kylie Jenner proudly displays her new pouty lips to a league of followers who are teens and twenty-somethings. That famous lip is not created with a clever make-up trick, she now fesses up to, but by hyaluronic acid fillers. As a result, there has been a significant increase in young women seeking out plastic surgeons for the Kylie pout.
Right out in the open you have the Kardashians featuring their CoolSculpting expedition on air, Iggy Azalia chatting up her boob job, and Bella Hadid’s recent filler-driven transformation. The days when cosmetic procedures where stigmatized, and vehemently denied, are now a thing of the past. Today’s stars happily admit to their tweaks, broadcasting them on social media, ultimately bringing plastic surgery out of the shadows. And all of this influencing is prompting a huge number of millennials, and now Gen Zs, to seek to create the same face as their filter-enhanced selfie face using modern cosmetic procedures.
An entire generation is becoming open to the idea that cosmetic procedures are simply a form of self-care and health maintenance. They don’t view Botox and fillers as something negative that should be hidden. These young adults are transparent in owning who they are and embracing it without shame. If that means a little cosmetic maintenance along the way can enhance their appearance, stave off aging, and improve their sense of self worth, well then why not?
But if a 20-something should walk in to the plastic surgeon’s office with a filtered selfie showing how they want to look, let’s just hope it isn’t one of those crazy SnapChat kitty cat ones.