Eighty years ago, when my grandmother was a teenager, everything was decided for her from the dresses that she wore, the job she could have, to the man she was supposed to marry. Since then, women have made great strides to transition from being glorified spectators of their lives to the designers of their lives. With the recent rise of various social media platforms, the female perspective is once again undergoing a change and, more than ever, the rights and expectations of women are a topic of meaningful discussion.
In the world of Instagram and Twitter, a woman can get that insatiable access into the daily ‘behind-the-scenes’ lives of celebrities. More importantly, she can get a glimpse of how her favorite celebrities achieve their seemingly perfect health and beauty. Now, for the first time in history, the same food, exercises, skin care and surgical procedures are easily available to her as well. While surgical and non-surgical procedures are becoming more and more common, augmentation of any kind is still collectively frowned upon, secretly gossiped about and has even been labeled as a contributing factor to the decline of the moral and ethical fabric of our society. To a woman who knows this, it places her in a guilty yet liberating position because she too wants to put forth the best version of herself into the world, but doesn’t want to be shamed for it. As a millennial who is very proud of the upward mobility of women, this started an internal debate for me.
Why is it that when a woman pursues an education, purchases a home or buys high-end clothing/shoes in the name of internal and external improvement, her efforts are admired and celebrated? But, if she decides to enhance her bodily appearance by erasing a few laugh lines or giving herself a more prominent chin, this is somehow judged in a negative light and dubbed as unnecessary or vain?
Beauty pundits have also voiced their concerns asking that if we constantly fix our flaws, aren’t we also changing the standard of beauty? In twenty years, will we need a couple of surgical procedures under our belts to be considered beautiful women?
These burning questions took me to the mecca of celebrity beauty, Beverly Hills.
Dr. Jason Diamond is a celebrity plastic surgeon and the founder of the Diamond Face Institute. He is double board certified by The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and The American Board of Otolaryngology. He has been recognized and honored with the annual Outstanding Achievement in Beauty Enhancement award at the 2016 Hollywood Beauty Awards. Dr. Diamond has shared his expertise on the hit TV series Dr. 90210 (E! Entertainment), Entertainment Tonight, Discovery Health, and has been featured in a myriad of publications including the three fashion bibles: Harper’s BAZAAR™, ELLE, and Vogue. On a daily basis he performs both nonsurgical and surgical procedures, including full reconstructive surgery, on some of the most famous faces in the world. Based on his longevity, knowledge and expertise, I knew Dr. Diamond would not only provide clarity on these issues but also, potentially have the answers.
At a young age, Dr. Diamond understood how physical appearance affected more than the superficial layer of one’s life as he recalled his intriguing introduction to facial reconstructive surgery. “When I was in tenth grade, a friend of mine was involved in a car accident. He suffered facial trauma and it really devastated him, his friends and his family. He was worried that no girl would ever want to go out with him. Then, he underwent facial reconstructive surgery which fixed him and internally made him whole again. The impact it had on his life was so unbelievable that it actually impacted me. At that time, cameras on cell phones did not exist. The doctors gave him actual polaroids taken during the surgery in which they had his scalp peeled down showing his skull with the plates and screws. He would carry these polaroids around with him every once in awhile and show people. Everyone else was disgusted but I was obsessed with the pictures. Every time I saw him, I was hoping he had those photos and that is when I knew I was fascinated with reconstructive surgery.”
I asked Dr. Diamond about his thoughts on the standard of beauty and if he felt that he was contributing to a change in the societal standard? He reassuringly said no and further explained,
“The standard of beauty has always been consistent across decades and ethnicities. The classic movie stars who were considered beautiful in the past would still be considered beautiful today. Also, the physical characteristics that are considered beautiful in America are the same characteristics that are desirable in other countries. It isn’t the standard of beauty that is changing. What is changing is that now someone who was not born with certain desirable traits can acquire them with the help of medical procedures. Therefore, more and more people in this lifetime can reach that ‘movie star level’ of beauty.”
“I see a wide range of patients, including males and females of all ages. There are issues that patients can be born with such as cosmetic or structural deformities of the nose, underdeveloped chins, or facial imbalances that bother them for much of their adolescent lives. It is appropriate and acceptable to address these particular problems as early as age fifteen or sixteen, and I’ve witnessed first-hand how the results can improve someone’s self-esteem in a life-changing way.
I see many budding models and actors/actresses who just want to enhance their facial features. I also see those who live their lives in front of the camera. To the world, they already look perfect so taking them from a ten to a twelve is a lot of pressure on me, but that’s where I thrive. I see the forty-year-olds who are trying to maintain what they had when they were younger. Fifty and sixty-year-olds are mostly looking to turn back time with more aggressive surgical procedures. As women begin to get older, their ages show more readily than men because women have thinner skin and more delicate features. Many of them don’t want to lose their youthful femininity. Generally, men do not mind their ages showing as much, but they don’t want to lose the facial structure and definition to their necks and jawlines.”
As Dr. Diamond was speaking, I could see that he truly believes in the power of transformation, not only externally but internally as well. “There is no difference between someone electing to have a procedure done in order to improve or enhance their appearance versus someone going to the gym to lose weight. It is the same concept, except you can’t go to the gym to make your face look better. We do facial enhancements to address issues which there is no other way to address. People come to me because they want to feel better about what they see in the mirror. It is the common thread amongst anyone who walks through my door, regardless of whether they’re male or female.”
We find ourselves in an era that provides so many options and so many capabilities that we no longer have to stare in the mirror and wish that our nose would magically lose half its mass. We don’t have to hate parts of ourselves that we see day in and day out. We no longer have to shy away from social situations for fear of judgment and we definitely don’t have to accept being treated differently based on our looks. Let’s face it, we all know it happens. In the same respect, we should not be treated differently for choosing to alter our looks. We should not be judged for taking advantage of opportunities to improve our confidence, our self-esteem, or our physical appearances. To me, Dr. Diamond said it best when he pointed out: