As social media outlets, such as Twitter and Instragram, begin to spread to and gain popularity in countries across the globe, a phenomenon known as the “selfie” is becoming more popular as well. Simply put, this trend is about taking pictures of oneself and posting the photos to online forums for others to view. While some users are content with simple photoshop apps to perfect their looks, an increasingly large number of social media users are opting for more a permanent solution and deciding to get plastic surgery, as the International Business Times reports.
The cosmetic procedures sought by social media users aren’t just your typical face lift or tummy tuck — there are actually procedures that specifically focus on slimming down ankles (making it easier to fit into sky-high heels) and tightening the skin around the hands (for newly engaged women who plan on taking copious amounts of pictures of their ring finger). One plastic surgeon in Detroit notes that the most alarming part about this trend is that his clientele is becoming younger and younger, since older generations aren’t so concerned with dramatic procedures to improve their looks on camera.
Another issue is that beauty trends — i.e., the standards usually placed to women to be considered “beautiful” — change dramatically from region to region, and even from decade to decade. One female journalist recently sent an untouched photo of herself to over 40 different photo editors in 25 different countries around the world, giving only the instruction, “Make me look beautiful.” The collected results are shocking, to say the least, and they are proof that global beauty standards are nearly impossible to define.
But that doesn’t keep people from traveling away from home in pursuit of cosmetic procedures. Data from Sydney’s University of Technology estimates that about 15,000 Australians travel abroad each year for cosmetic surgery, spending a collective $300 million. Many international patients decide to seek treatment outside of their home country for financial reasons, while others are attracted to vacation packages that come complete with cosmetic surgical procedures. Not only is this trend dangerous — especially in countries with lower educational and technological standards for cosmetic procedures — but patients may also find that what is considered to be the “perfect” nose in Malaysia is very different from one in the U.S. (and all too often, this realization occurs after the surgery has taken place).
The selfie culture doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, and the practice of cosmetic surgery is becoming more accessible than ever to everyday people who simply want to look better; perhaps energy spent on curbing these trends is being wasted, and rather, it would be better spent educating people that “beauty” is created whenever they have confidence in their looks and when they learn to love themselves.
Fortunately, some health and fitness gurus are changing the way they motivate people, focusing on a more positive message:
“There will always be gyms and fitness practices that use body-shaming, quick-fix tactics to drive sales. Happily, we at the Body Positive Fitness Alliance —an educational resource for fitness professionals— are observing a rising trend in the number of trainers who want to meet participants where they are and help them build long-term fitness habits that add to their quality of life.” — Laura Vinyard, BPFA Regional Director