Cosmetic Surgery: The unending search for perfection
By Linda Orajekwe
The quest for perfection is one the human race has been on for hundreds of years. Men and women, especially women, have been involved in different activities in other to look better.
Man continues to create various physical and visible standards that scream ‘Lack’ and inadequacy. One of the places this quest for perfection has taken root is in the beauty industry.
As the world evolved, the standard of what is perceived as beauty has also evolved; making man engage endlessly in this battle to look younger or older, not just for the sake of appreciation, validation, attention but also, to be the ‘ideal’ that society has placed on the standard of beauty.
Before the advent of social media, women saw women like themselves on TV Shows, adverts and magazines looking prettier, slimmer and glamorous.
They saw women with every curve looking right, with a cinched waist, beautiful skin, and great facial features. These representations made a lot of women believe that they have to be like cover girls, or the woman in a coloured visual box, anything other than who they are in real life in order to be accepted.
The introduction of cosmetic surgery meant there was a way to change that. Women went ‘under the knife’ for beauty reasons, to work on the different parts of their bodies they want to be altered; from having a nose job, botox, liposuction to lip and breast enlargement.
They reconstruct parts of their bodies and then spend many years of their lives denying it; because of how any and every form of cosmetic surgery is perceived.
Cosmetic surgery for the purpose of beauty was once seen as a taboo.
Those who indulged in it were ashamed to own up because it was perceived to communicate unhappiness with one’s body.
The situation is even worse if the individual is in the limelight. No celebrity wants to admit to the world that she doesn’t love how she looks or was even unhappy with it, so there goes silence.
Back then, women were ashamed to admit they noticed the flaw others noticed on their bodies. Instead, they went ahead to do something about that flaw.
The introduction of social media age which has made everything digital, ensures that we share our lives with everyone just as they share theirs with us. What we occasionally saw on TV, we now carry with us everywhere making higher, the pressure to be the advertised version of beauty.
Many think it’s just social media and can get a grip on it. But research has shown that people are making life-altering decisions because of the huge percent of their 24 hours given to social media, looking for better ways to present themselves to the world.
The competition is even fiercer on Instagram where celebrities daily post beautiful and sometimes, well -doctored images of themselves, making the ordinary looker gloat with envy.
On 27th of December 2018, Nigerian influencer and On-Air personality, Toke Makinwa proudly announced her rumoured body construction were not just rumours. She said: “This year, I stopped complaining and changed things. I hated my body, I fixed it, (best decision ever)…” just one more person in the bunch of influencers that have changed their body to “feel good”.
With over 1 billion active Instagram users, people are being influenced by every scroll on what the ideal should be. The situation is getting worse with the rise of Influencers, and the benefits that come with looking “perfect”. Every ‘like’ on our
Instagram page has come to be an approval of who we are; and when we don’t get enough likes like the Tokes are getting, we panic and visit the doctor for that makeover that’ll give us the happiness and attention we crave.
New-York based celebrity cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank in an interview with Fashionist.com says, “Patients will come in requesting certain enhancement especially lips, based on what they see on Instagram. It does create a certain frenzy in the pursuit of perfection that is not realistic.”
This need to look like what the world is presently accepting, does more harm than good to not just our physical, but also our mental health. Every trend that gains attention and validation, tells us we have one less thing to make us whole.
On the 31st of December 2018, a Nigerian beauty queen, Nneka Miriam Onwuzuligbo died due to complications after consulting a self-acclaimed Nigerian surgeon, Anu for Brazilian Bum Lift, liposuction, and fat transfer.
The supposed doctor, Anu, who usually imports doctors into the country to perform the surgery, decided to try the surgery herself, thereby, throwing Nneka into a coma that eventually led to her death. Anu is presently on the run with both business and personal Instagram accounts switched to private.
In 2007, American rapper Kanye West lost his mother, Donda, who apparently developed complications following a tummy tuck and breast reduction. Donda was a 58-year-old former Professor of English who had given up a 31-year tenured post, to manage her son’s business affairs.
The former First Lady of Nigeria, Stella Obasanjo, died in 2005, aged 59, after a tummy tuck in a Spanish clinic. James Brown’s third wife, Adrienne, died in 1996, aged 47, following an undisclosed cosmetic procedure. In 2004, Olivia Goldsmith, author of the
First Wives Club, suffered a fatal heart attack at 54 as she was being prepared for a chin tuck. The list goes on.
No matter how professional your surgeon is, cosmetic surgery is not risk-free and with all of these recorded deaths of prominent people, there are millions of unrecorded deaths caused by our need to be the ideal that society validates.
In the past, surgical procedures were done at a much older age than the millennials are doing right now.
Report also shows that most cosmetic treatments in 2018 by Millenials, were non-surgical procedures, like Botox, fillers, micro needling, and non-surgical rhinoplasty.
Doctors reveal that one of the biggest motivators for these procedures was because they wanted to look better in their selfies instead of using filters to doctor the images. Some doctors also revealed that some patients come to them with photos of their filtered Instagram selfies and say that’s what they want.
“We have a whole number of women who are interested and excited about the new wave of beauty” says Dr. Onyeka Udechukwu an Aesthetician with Hello Perfect Aesthetic & Laser Clinic based in Lagos.
According to him, “because it’s the age of social media and social media gives the face of a perfect girl living a perfect life, we’re now jumping out of that into real life where people don’t want people to say “she no look as she be for her Instagram”. You want to defeat that so you look as perfect on your page as you are in real life.”
This need to be approved by people we know and do not know, is throwing families into mourning. Sometimes, these mourning times are even worse because these are dark times your families didn’t see coming.
A child leaves the house, head to the hospital to get the ideal selfie face, smaller waist, breast enlargement, tummy tuck, liposuction, Brazilian Bum Lift and with one complication, the life is over. Families lose their loved ones and are deprived of the chance to even be there for those they care about because, these individuals have made their looks a priority over how their loved ones feel. While it is important to also do things in life that makes you happy, we should understand that our decisions have ripple effects on the people we love even after we’re dead and gone.
This brings us to the question: “Is the idea of the perfect body or looks worth dying for?
It is important to understand that the idea of “perfect” is man-made, an ideology that nobody is. It is hoped that the death rate these procedures are incurring, would one day scare people from going under the knife or getting injections to look better.