Chinese actor Gao Liu took to social media to transmit the risks of cosmetic surgery by sharing her experience of a supposedly botched nose surgery, which has left the top of her nose charred. Sharing pictures of her face, where blackened flesh on her nose is visible, the young star lamented how she thought cosmetic surgery “would make me more beautiful, but I didn’t realise that they would be the beginning of a nightmare.”
As per BBC, Liu shared her horrific experience on a national social media platform, where she preached to her five million followers about the possible risks of cosmetic surgery, an extremely popular practice in China. In a bid to “get a slight trim,” Liu said she lost out on a lot of work and was reportedly left feeling suicidal.
Risks of Cosmetic Surgery: How much are we compromising?
Cosmetic surgery, or plastic surgery as it is commonly called, has long been a subject of growing debate since it thrives on the very foundations of conventional beauty standards. Regardless, two sides of the coin have come to exist. At one end, the use of cosmetic surgery is an open declaration of mainstream ideas of “beauty” being the accepted norm that women must follow. But alternately, it can be argued that going under the knife is a choice that stems from emancipatory ideas of agency.
Beyond these two arguments, however, is it really disputable that the risks of cosmetic surgery may be intrinsically attached to the procedure?
Shedding The Stigma Of Cosmetic Surgery
The global numbers of people opting for cosmetic surgery has shot up dramatically in recent times. Reports claim China is one of the strongest markets in the world, worth approximately $14 billion.
One of the reasons is the mainstreaming of this procedure by removing the social stigma that comes with it. Especially for women, surgery to augment their breasts, chins, jaws, nose, cheeks, have all carried a sense of shame since it directly links to the idea of beauty. The immediate response – as seen in films, books, or even real-life – to a woman going under the knife has been a wink-and-nudge insinuation that she is doing it to attract or pleasure a man.
Are the risks of cosmetic surgery both social and physical?
But another side of it exists. As women increasingly claim femininity and womanhood as labels they themselves define, do cosmetic surgeries remain a tool to pander to the male gaze? Or is it a choice women are making to be more confident in the body they think is ideal? Even if women change their body inauthentically by resignation to false beauty norms, the chief point to consider is who created those norms in the first place? Who decided what “looking right” will entail?
Do Risks Of Cosmetic Surgery Override Its Benefits?
The scope of such surgery is by no means limited to the idea of beauty alone. In the case of plastic surgery, it has long been used as a method to reconstruct lost body parts, birth aberrations, or burns. Organ damage, scars, skin damage, infections, or other complications underlie it, as they do in the case of cosmetic surgery too. But with the latter, social risks are pegged higher.
Veteran actor Jane Fonda last year revealed she had undergone cosmetic surgery to look “right” and “be loved.” From Yolanda Hadid to Britney Spears in the US and Shruti Haasan to Ayesha Takia in India, all these celebrities underwent cosmetic surgeries for a multitude of personal reasons that were received negatively by the public.
With platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat aggressively pushing filters that enlarge your eyes, smoothen your skin, or thin your nose, certain beauty ideals are being established that threaten the very idea of individuality. Does cosmetic surgery boost our idea of self or rely on wholly compromising it?
If fears surrounding cosmetic surgery were dominantly all-pervasive, it wouldn’t have become a practice as popular as it is today. But more and more candidates are turning to physical or bodily enhancements by way of cosmetics, either by virtue of independent choice or through imminent pressures of conventional beauty standards. It sure is a state-of-the-art technique symbolic of modernity. Even as its risks thrum right underneath the surface of its benefits.
Views expressed are the author’s own.