Should celebrities have to come clean about plastic surgery ?
For a few years now, with the body positivity movement, we have started a war against beauty standards in order to spread a more inclusive vision of Beauty. Celebrities have had work done forever but as the discussion is now open, is it a moral duty for them to come clean about any plastic surgery they may have had done - in order not to mislead their audience regarding the unattainable beauty standards that plastic surgery promotes ? That’s what Ruby is asking herself below.
From Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid to stars of Love Island, we all seem to be captivated by the question of whether celebrities have achieved their faces and bodies as a result of Botox, fillers, surgery or Photoshop. Thanks to social media offering a constant reel of photos where celebrities seem to look perfect 24/7, it’s easier than ever to speculate over surgery. A quick glance at any female celebrity’s Instagram comments section and you’re likely to find somewhere people questioning whether or not the celebrity in question has had lip fillers or a boob job. Perhaps it's a reflection of our own insecurities about our appearances, wondering why our bodies aren't in line with the vision of perfection we see of celebrities on social media, but by denying cosmetic surgery, celebrities can be seen as playing into the pressures around body image. Is it stale and outdated to speculate over celebrity cosmetic surgery, is it really none of our business, or should celebrities and influencers have a moral duty to open up about whether or not they've had work done?
the promotion of unrealistic standards
The problem with celebrities denying cosmetic surgery is that it contributes to the perfect body ideals that social media often portrays to young impressionable women. It’s disheartening to see women, and especially young girls, commenting on celebrity photos about how seeing their toned, perfect bodies makes them feel awful about their own, or that they need to not eat for a week or use such and such diet product in order to achieve this look that they desire. Whether they tiptoe around the truth, straight-up avoid addressing the issue or outright deny having any work done, by giving the perception that their appearances are natural, celebrities are contributing to the unattainable beauty standards that society enforces upon women, perpetuating female body insecurities. The reality is that some of the most famous and successful models and celebrities we idealise as being the epitome of beauty have most likely only achieved this so-called perfect look through surgery and cosmetic procedures.
I'm by no means anti-cosmetic surgery. I believe it's a matter of personal preference and there's absolutely nothing wrong with getting work done if that's what makes you feel happy and confident in your own body, but it's also unhealthy to promote to young, impressionable girls that they could ever naturally attain some of the appearances that we see on social media. While there's nothing wrong with celebrating that people can have work done and still be beautiful, by denying surgery, are these celebrities not putting out a message to women and young girls that their unnatural, plastic appearances are naturally achievable when the reality is quite different?
… THAT TURNED INTO A PROFITABLE BUSINESS
Another problem lies in the models and influencers who advertise beauty and skincare products, who might have had all sorts of fillers, Botox and face lifts, but are selling to us that they're achieved their youthful glow through these products, essentially profiting off of deceiving young girls into believing that that's how to achieve this look. Or Kylie Jenner selling lip fillers as the key to her full-lip look rather than admitting to getting fillers. As models put their perfect figures down to detox teas or juice cleanses rather than fat transfers or boob jobs, they're perpetuating insecurities that encourage young women to invest in products that are potentially damaging to their physical and mental health, for the sake of their own material gain. But should it be our own responsibility as followers to recognise that what we see on social media is not always reality and that the capabilities of cosmetic surgery, fillers and FaceTune can often deceive us?
an unhealthy speculation game
Celebrities were getting work done long before social media existed, but now that it does and we are given an almost constant view of their lives, we feel entitled to bombard their comments with speculations over whether they've had liposuction or lip fillers. The problem is perhaps the way we go about trying to find out if celebrities have had surgery or not - women are still shamed and bullied for getting cosmetic surgery. Take Megan Barton-Hanson from Love Island, who before she even left the infamous villa was exposed and criticised for having had thousands of pounds worth of surgery to change her insecurities. Bella Hadid denies having any plastic surgery or fillers, but has been criticised by journalists in magazine and newspaper articles and Instagram accounts such as @celebface and @cosmetic.derm dedicated to ousting celebrities who appear to have had surgery. By speculating over what work women have done, these accounts and articles contribute to the stigmatisation of and shame against women who choose to have cosmetic procedures. Women should be able to own their choices and not feel shamed for having had work done on their bodies or faces.
transparency is key
Trying to make the beauty industry a more inclusive and less outwardly perfect space means finding a compromise between celebrating the beauty of models and celebrities whether they have had work done or not, but accepting that these beauty standards are often naturally unattainable. Celebrities should be able to feel comfortable with their appearances, surgery or not. Love Island star Kady McDermott shared her breast augmentation experience with her Instagram followers, discussing the highs and lows and embracing her confidence in her body without deceiving anyone about whether it's natural or not. By being transparent with their fans and followers, celebrities should be able to celebrate their confidence and beauty, whilst not contributing to the perfect ideals that social media often portrays. We shouldn't care if celebrities get cosmetic surgery, but we should care if they try to play if off like they naturally look that way, because this feeds the fire of unrealistic beauty standards.
instagram vs reality
That being said, it's important to take everything we see when scrolling through Instagram with a pinch of salt and remind ourselves that Instagram isn't always reality. The reality is that celebrities and influencers with huge platforms and followings probably aren’t going to want to admit that their faces and bodies are ‘fake’, and that even if they’ve not had surgery or fillers, the deceptive powers of Photoshop, FaceTune, filters and posing can be just as misleading. An important part of being able to use social media mindfully is learning to take a step back and recognise that Instagram is not real life, and it’s far too easy to make things seem more perfect online than they really are.
by Ruby McAuliffe, her blog