Feminist Philosophers

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Liposuction and student health (!!$%@&?) February 9, 2013

Filed under: advertising,beauty,eating disorders,self-esteem — femphil @ 8:46 pm

Here’s an ad that ran in the most recent issue of “The Bucknellian” — the college newspaper at Bucknell University.  It invites college students to “get rid of the areas that make [them] crazy” at Geisinger Hospital.  What’s worse? Geisinger runs Bucknell University’s student health services.  So, as one of our readers puts it, “this is a case of a hospital charged with guarding the health of students promoting to those same students liposuction.”  Faculty, staff, and some students are outraged.  Isn’t anybody in Geisinger’s marketing department thinking?  How about the student staff at the Bucknellian?  Or whomever oversees the staff, assuming some faculty or staff member(s) does?  If you’re moved to speak out: Bucknellian at (570) 577-1085;  Geisinger Center for Aesthetics and Cosmetic Surgery at (855) 872-0448. (Thanks, G!)

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17 Responses to “Liposuction and student health (!!$%@&?)”

  1. Stephanie Hull Says:

    Unfortunately, I’m not that surprised… in the weekly university newsletter email, the Plastic Surgery Department at the university hospital advertises specials on rhinoplasty.

  2. Stephanie Hull Says:

    ** at the university I attend.

  3. So what. Let it be. It’s just another consumer product. I’ve had cosmetic surgery–big deal.

  4. Here are the latest global statistics on plastic surgery: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/plastic-surgery-statistics/ Surprisingly, the US is not even among the top three.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I’m with Harriet. I don’t get what is outrage-worthy – I mean, you might think it’s icky that people get liposuction at all but we are used to that idea, no? We don’t get outraged each time we are reminded of it? At least there are equal numbers of men and women.

  6. Rebecca Kukla Says:

    Oops brand new computer. #5 was me, Rebecca.

  7. Bets Says:

    But if this is helping student debt skyrocket, it’s a good reason to be pissed. I seriously hope the next looming credit bubble isn’t going to burst because of some collective student body tummy tuck. Aren’t students typically broke? Who’s paying for this?

  8. JakesForLuck Says:

    I find this amusing, if this had been an ad in the AARP magazine for face lifts no one would care, but becasue its in a college publication it is offensive? Last I checked, college students are not children, they are adults capable of deciding if they want a comsetic surgery procedure or not.

  9. Rebecca Kukla Says:

    Yeah I am actually pretty confused about what the outrage was supposed to be and would like a helping hand.

  10. sophia Says:

    Femphil, thanks so much for raising this important concern. My impression of the feminist movement is that a long time ago we realized that women (and men) should be free to choose from a variety of options to pursue their well-being and happiness. For example, one could either choose to wear cosmetics or not, to have children or not, to marry or not, to work only at home or work outside the home, and be a good feminist. However, feminists must ask the tough question about whether some moves we make are truly chosen or instead seem like a choice but are truly the result of feeling pressured. If one makes a “choice” that results mainly from feeling pressured, that is not truly a choice. The feminist vision is not of a world in which people pursue plastic surgery as a result of feeling pressured to be perfect.

    In this particular case, femphil is right to worry about the impact this ad has on the choices of an individual reading this ad in his/her college newspaper (as well as the ripple effect that individual’s choice has only the choices of other individuals). This ad in effect tells students (most of whom have all the money in the world at this particular institution) that you should try to make your body perfect, even when you have already used diet and exercise to bring it to the most perfect state it can be in without a surgeon’s intervention. This is a dangerous, worrisome message coming from anyone, but especially from the medical professionals charged with looking after student health at Bucknell. They profit when students choose this liposuction service; that profit depends on people feeling deeply dissatisfied with their appearance. So, we should be seriously concerned that this ad is likely to leave readers more inclined to feel dissatisfied with their appearance.

    I am surprised to hear someone imply that we should be less worried about plastic surgery because there are equal numbers of men and women choosing plastic surgery. While it is true that more men are now getting plastic surgery than ever before, that is certainly not better than when only women went down this path. Instead, this phenomenon tells us that the problem of objectification and unhealthy perfectionism is worse than ever now that everyone—not just women—is being pressured to alter oneself in potentially dangerous ways.

  11. If you do have a comment for the staff/editors of The Bucknellian, the appropriate forum to voice your opinion is in a Letter to the Editor emailed to Bucknellian@bucknell.edu.

  12. JakesForLuck Says:

    Sophia, I would contend there isn’t a single choice we make that isn’t pressured in some way. Did I brush my teeth today because I was “pressured” by my dentist? Or perhaps it was the social pressure of being ostracized by my peers as a result of a bad case of halitosis brought on by poor dental hygiene. To make an argument that a “pressured” choice, isn’t a real choice is ridiculous to me. Life is all about doing the right thing (whatever that is based on your individual or societal moral code) despite outside pressures. I refuse to surrender my free will to your argument that any choices I have made under “pressure” were not real choices. Further more, I would contend that your sentiment is exactly whats wrong with so many people today. Everyone wants to blame someone else for the choices they make, I was pressured, well I saw it on TV, well my parents said I should do this. Bottom line, you are responsible for you. If you want to get cosmetic surgery, do it, if you don’t, then don’t, but to lay blame at the door of an ad in a school newspaper for you making a decision to alter your body, doesn’t really jive with my BS detector.

  13. beta Says:

    Whereas my b.s. detector likewise goes off at the argument that every choice is pressured in some way. If every choice is, then one can never assess the value or disvalue of a choice made due to being manipulated, propagandized, threatened, oppressed, abused, deceived, or coerced as in any way different from a choice made based on a flip of the coin. And at no point did the original post “lay blame” for a particular choice anyway.

    The school health service provider runs ads of idealized bodies and suggests your differences from them might “make you crazy” and that you should “take care of” them. My bullshit detector is activated by the health care provider aiming to persuade the students in their “care” to agree that being different from the models in their ads is crazy-making and that elective cosmetic surgery takes care of “troublesome” spots. Would they be so troublesome if their own health-care provider didn’t implicitly compare those with such “spots” to the models in the ads?

    I call B.S. on Geisinger. And yes, I know that elective cosmetic surgery is a choice. But on a philosophers’ blog, surely we can question whether or not all choices are equally free. If a choice is made in the presence of gendered bullshit, it would seem a manipulated choice.

  14. Nemo Says:

    In other student health news, Brown University’s student insurance plan will henceforward pay for sex reassignment surgery for students diagnosed with gender identity disorder:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/education/12sexchange.html?_r=0

  15. [...] readers seem to center not only on the ad itself, but its sponsor: Geisinger Health System.  As the Feminist Philosophers blog explains, “Geisinger runs Bucknell University’s student health services.  So, as one of our readers [...]

  16. Rebecca Kukla Says:

    I am aware as anyone of the pressures of gendered body normalization and why they are problematic. It’s just we live in a world surrounded by this stuff and I don’t get why THIS particular ad is outrage-inducing. It’s targeted at 20-somethings … no surprise there. It’s not targeting an especially vulnerable group, except insofar as anyone targeted by cosmetic surgery ads probably had body insecurities and is vulnerable in that sense. I don’t think it in any way hints that lipo is a medical need, nor does it problematically fold it together with other offered services on campus. I think it’s totally find to be outraged at body normalization culture and the complicity of medicine it, but I just still don’t see what is special here.

  17. Cynthia Jean Says:

    I would like to know how much would it be to do liposuction surgery on my arms, thighs, and breast


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