Patterns of plastic surgery

disturbing plastic surgery picture Report here on a study, undertaken by researchers at the university of Aberdeen, UK, on the reasons cited for undergoing plastic surgery.

Interesting findings: 1) “nearly one-quarter of the British women I interviewed [40 in total] indicated that they had done so to make themselves more appealing to a male partner.”

2) the tendency to cite such a reason was greater for the UK women interviewed than the US women.

A fairly small sample was used in gathering the data, but I’m intrigued by this seeming cultural difference nonetheless…

6 thoughts on “Patterns of plastic surgery

  1. Hi Cara,
    I agree with your comment, in the post, that the sample is too small – and from an insufficiently broad cross section (all the US women were from Long Island) – to draw any conclusions about cultural differences between US and UK women in general (hence my inclusion of ‘seeming’). And the terms in which the report is couched ‘UK women… US women’ is objectionable on this count.
    But whilst, of course, no broad generalisations can be made, it might be worth considering whether there are any explanations (perhaps just coincidence) which may account for the different tendencies in reasons reported.

    I also disagree with you that the study tells us nothing interesting. For instance, you say:
    “It tells us nothing about why women choose cosmetic surgery– it tells us why they say that they choose cosmetic surgery.”
    I think finding out what *some* women *say* about plastic surgery choices is worth considering – even if the reports are after the fact rationalisations, or not the full story (note: the report doesn’t specify that the study did not involve multiple choice, as far as I can tell).

    What I thought was worth flagging up in particular was that some women did report on having surgery ‘for their partner’ (which, agreed, isn’t precise and might admit of different understandings); it struck me as contrary to what a lot of students have to say about women’s choices, in discussion of norms of appearance, namely: ‘its pressure that people put on themselves’ or ‘its to impress other women’.

    I also think it’s worth reflecting on one’s own attitudes towards cosmetic surgery when undergone for different (reported) reasons: does one find it more troubling if undergone for some reasons than others?
    Separating out the reasons – whilst acknowledging that more than one might be operative at once – can be helpful for this.

    Ok, so this goes beyond the detail and the aims of the report, for sure. But these are the thoughts that reading it prompted me to have, so I thought it worth sharing with others, and seeing what came up…

  2. I agree with you that finding out what women say about plastic surgery is important. But I think that we shouldn’t automatically assume that those are actually the reasons why women get plastic surgery. And I would definitely be interested in a real study on the issue– both a study about how women talk about it, and a study like I suggested in my post, where women are given many carefully worded options to see how they differ, and for the sake of interest of each on their own.

  3. Also, I wasn’t trying to be snarky, so I apologize if it came off that way. The timestamp on my comment says noon, but I swear that I actually left it around 7 a.m., and that was kind of an early morning way of putting my opinion out there without needing to vocalize it all over again.

  4. You know, in a way it’s even *more* interesting if women aren’t telling the truth when they say they have surgery to please their partners. In my teaching experience (both US and UK), it’s pretty clear that this is the least socially acceptable reason for plastic surgery– so it would be an odd falsehood to choose. Of course, I’m dealing with students who take a feminist philosophy class, so they’re not exactly a representative sample!

  5. Hi Cara,
    No snarky-ness taken! Your comment made me realise that much of what I had found interesting in reading the report hadn’t come across in the post, so thanks for making me be clearer on this!

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