Kate Aubusson in her recent article 'Soft porn' and Instagram: how plastic surgeons fuel body image anxiety discusses the negative role plastic surgeons play on the predominant issue of body image in today’s society.
Throughout her article, Abusson accuses plastic surgeons of contributing to this worldwide issue of body image and refers to the use of ‘soft porn’ imagery and social media tools such as Instagram, as ways in which plastic surgeons stay at the forefront of the beauty industry.
Aubusson referred to the plastic surgery industry as contributors and ‘quick fixers’ to the issue of body image. She believes that by using tools such as social media, surgeons can entice and convince a viewer into getting work done and to give false expectations of the outcome.
Aubusson also referred to leading international expert on appearance psychology Professor Emerita Nichola Rumsey when discussing the negative ramifications, the cosmetic industry has when contributing towards poor body image.
With reference to the rise in the number of Australians undergoing plastic surgery in a recent study conducted in 2017, Professor Rumsey shamed the beauty industry for endorsing the ideal that “the more attractive a person is, the happier or successful they will be.”
Using links to poor self-esteem, body image, the influence of social media and selling unrealistic beauty expectations, the article challenges the cosmetic industry for being a part of this predominant and topical issue, over trying to help solve it. In doing so, it is important that Plastic Surgeons, as the peak body performing Cosmetic Surgery, present images in an ethical, professional, respectful and tasteful manner. The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons emphasises that images should be representative of potential results and wherever possible photos should be clinical in nature. The use of images of patients in sexualised or provocative clothing and poses serves to cross the boundary of professional and ethical conduct. It may also falsely represent the doctor-patient relationship and present prospective patients with unrealistic expectations. These types of images should be avoided by reputable practices.
The cosmetic industry has responded to Kate Aubusson’s article, discussing how the pertinent use of social media today is unavoidable. It asserts that cosmetic surgery can, in fact have a positive influence on a person’s overall mental health and self-confidence.
The role of social media, not only in the cosmetic industry but an individual’s everyday life is unescapable. Technological advancements have meant that we live and breathe the digital age. It has become a part of our everyday routine.
In plastic surgery, social media is used to educate viewers, to showcase credible and professional work, and to advocate for safe surgery and research. Without the role of social media, patients may not be able to delineate the credible, expert surgeons, from the ill-practised and less educated ones.
With the rise of self-advertising tools, surgeons must stay on top of the social media platforms. They must educate future clients and if possible, protect them from untrained surgeons. To ask an industry to boycott or stop the use of social media is potentially damaging since today’s society lives and breathes these technologies.
Plastic surgeons take their role in the beauty industry very seriously and understand the pertinent issue of how poor body image can be linked to undergoing surgery. Surgeons argue that the right surgery on the right client can only boost levels of self-confidence and personal comfort.
It is important for a surgeon to determine why a client would like to undergo surgery and whether that surgery is necessary. Dr Mark Hanikeri, will always advise if a requested surgery is unwarranted or unsafe. Plastic Surgeons have a moral obligation to assess a patient and their reasoning for surgery.
In the text, Does Cosmetic Surgery Improve Psychosocial wellbeing? Authors David J Castle, MSc, MD, FRANZCP, Professorial Fellow, Roberta J Honigman, BComm, BsocWork, Grad Dip Conflict Resolution, Social Worker, and Katharine A Phillips, MD, Director, discussed the psychological outcomes plastic surgery can place onto an individual’s mental health. The text summarised the positive attributes;
Overall, the studies suggest that most patients were pleased with the outcome and felt better about themselves…. Domains of functioning showing improvement included self-worth, self-esteem, distress and shyness and quality of life.
In summary, due to the delicacy of the issue of body image, the cosmetic industry need to be aware of what they advertise, to understand each individual client and to strictly use social media tools as a way in which one can educate prospective patients and showcase credible work.